Deconstructed chilli-con-carne, AKA pulled beef with Totnes hippy beans

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Meat mains

Deconstructed chilli-con-carne, AKA pulled beef with Totnes hippy beans

Main Serves 6 8h 30 min
Deconstructing things, whether it's clothes, furniture or food, was all the rage a few years ago. Generally it seemed to be a meaningless fad but in this instance it does raise humble midweek chilli to Sunday lunch status – maybe even invite some friends around for a casual supper.


for the beef

  • 1 tsp each cumin, coriander seed, cinnamon, smoked paprika, dried oregano and salt
  • 1kg brisket
  • 150ml reggae reggae BBQ sauce or similar

for the hippy beans

  • 6 tbsp olive or sunflower oil
  • 1 large aubergine, cut into large dice
  • 4 ramiro peppers (or 3 bell peppers), chopped in large chunks
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 large carrots, finely chopped
  • 2 celery sticks, finely chopped
  • 1 heaped tsp ground cumin
  • 2 fresh chillies, chopped
  • 5 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 3 tomatoes, diced
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes
  • 3 tbsp sweet chilli sauce (or to taste)
  • 800g cooked beans, mainly kidney but a few others adds variety
  • 400g purple sprouting broccoli, or whatever seasonal greens come to hand


Prep time: 30 min
Cooking time: 8h
  • Step 1

    Mix the spices together. Remove the brisket from its netting, score both sides with a sharp knife and rub in the spices. Place in a roasting tray and cook at your oven's lowest setting, or in a slow cooker overnight. Baste occasionally and add the BBQ sauce after about 4 hours. It's one of those dishes that doesn't mind being overcooked, but it's good if you can catch it when it's still slice-able. Next day when you reheat it, it will really fall apart and melt in the mouth.
  • Step 2

    ,b>for the beans:</b>Heat the olive oil in a frying pan and fry the aubergine until it's nicely browned. Remove and do the same with the peppers. Remove with a slotted spoon, cool slightly and quickly pulse in a food processor.
  • Step 3

    Meanwhile add another couple of tablespoons of oil to a casserole dish and fry the onions, carrots and celery over a medium heat for about 8 minutes. Add the cumin, chilli and garlic and fry for another couple of minutes.
  • Step 4

    Return the peppers and aubergine, add both tomatoes, chilli sauce and beans, put the lid on and cook gently, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes. Remove the lid, check that it isn't too dry (if so add a little veg stock) and cook for another 20 minutes, stirring frequently. Check the heat – you might like it hotter.
  • Step 5

    Cut the purple sprouting broccoli into bite-sized pieces and blanch in salted boiling water for 2 minutes. Refresh under the cold tap. Add the purple sprouting broccoli to the beans and cook, stirring every few minutes, until al dente. The bean/veg combo should have started to break down and go a little gloopy so you'll get a good contrast of textures.
  • Step 6

    Shred the warmed beef and serve with the beans. We had ours for Sunday lunch with roasties to keep everyone happy, but you could try homemade chilli corn bread (Google the recipe). It's about as easy as bread can be.

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