4th Best Chilli in the UK

4th Best Chilli in the UK

This time last year, I was competing in one of the regional competitions for the UK Chilli Cook-off Assocation. An annual competition where competitors meet for 4 hours to try and create the best chilli (chilli-con-carne, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be meat based!), a panel of four judges score the chillis to decide the winner. The winners then go through to the UK finals. The competitions, both regionals and finals are normally hosted by an existing food festival - so usually in a field under a marquee, with no power source and just hoping for good weather.

After taking bronze (third place) in the regionals earlier in the year, in the Gower Chilli Cook-off, I earned a spot in the UK finals. So last September I ended up competing in the UK finals of the Chilli cook off - just missing out on a spot on the podium (and a prize!) taking 4th spot, out of the 12 teams who had qualified through winning regionals. .

UK Chilli Cook-off Score card

My chilli was a fairly straight forward - a slow braise, with a range of different chilli peppers, using beef short rib, pork cheeks and chorizo.


Chilli powder - For competitions, I would blend chilli powders often De Arbol, Mulato and New Mexico Red, but for regular family chilli powder, run of the mill supermarket chilli powder will work fine Meat - as mentioned for the competition I used beef short ribs, pork cheeks and chorizo. This is a scaled down recipe, and the meat can really be interchanged for any hard-working, slow-twitch muscles. 500g chopped pork shoulder & 70g chopped chorizo would work well for a serving of 4 - but you can choose the meat as you please.

  • 4 people
  • 30 minutes
  • 3 hours


  • 1 onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • a couple chillis (red/green/jalapeno, as you like) - optional
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 tablespoon tomato puree
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon Angus & Oink Moo-mami (optional)
  • 2 teaspoons oregano
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 tablespoon chilli powder (see notes)
  • 1 tin 400g chopped tomatoes
  • 400ml vegetable stock
  • 1 sheet gelatin
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
  • 500 grams chopped pork shoulder (see notes)
  • 75 grams diced cooking chorizo


  1. If cooking outside, get the fire going and nice and hot - we are going to be cooking at about 180-200 degrees centigrade
  2. In a large pot, add a drizzle of oil and start cooking the onion and carrots until soft and translucent, probably about ten minutes (depending how hot the fire is - it often takes a bit to really get going)
  3. Add the garlic, chillis (if using), pork (e.g. chorizo or bacon) and tomato puree and cook for a further minute
  4. Mix in the spices and oregano and cook a minute longer
  5. Add the main meat you are cooking with and brown in the pan (don't stir it too much to allow it to brown nicely)
  6. Mix the sheet of gelatin (if using) with the 400 ml vegetable stock, stir so it dissolves and then add the liquid to the pot and stir
  7. Allow to come to the boil and reach a rolling simmer (you can either do this over direct heat, no lid - akin to using a gas hob, or you can close the lid and leave it to cook at about 180-200 degrees, akin to sticking in the oven)
  8. After an hour or so, add the tomatoes and cider vinegar
  9. Continue to cook, stir occasionally, for another two hours or so. If it gets too thick, then add some more boiling water
  10. When its done, the meat should be tender, and you will probably be able to pull it apart with forks (like pulled pork), which can help create a nice textured chilli, with some pulled meat and some chunks left whole.
  11. Serve with rice, nachos, fajitas or whatever!

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