Paul O’Connell’s delicious chilli con carne fit for a rugby team

What’s for Dinner? The former Ireland rugby captain shares his family favourite

November is Food Month at The Irish Times. Every weekday you'll find a recipe here that we hope will inspire you to make a quick and easy dinner, or a treat to share with friends

We start the series with a recipe from Paul O'Connell, the former Ireland rugby captain, who is now an Ireland rugby coach and contributor to the new Aldi/IRFU cookbook Home, published in aid of Barnados

I believe encouraging families to eat well together is hugely important, and this goes for the rugby team too. We're so lucky to have Maurice McGeehan as our performance chef at the IRFU. Thanks to Maurice's incredible menus, the players and the backroom team have long been spoilt with home-cooked food while on Ireland duty. There's no doubt that has played a hugely positive part in our physical and mental wellbeing and makes long periods away in camp more enjoyable.

When I am at home, I love to cook this chilli con carne for my family. It’s comforting, filling, and all the kids like it, so there is no arguing! It’s great to batch cook, and it can be served in so many different ways – with rice, inside tacos, or even with a baked potato. There’s a lot to be said for one-pan dishes like this that you can go on to embellish with other elements. I love a side of guacamole with it.

Paul O’Connell’s chilli con carne

Serves 4

500g lean minced beef (10% or less fat)
2 medium onions, peeled and chopped
3 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1-2tsp hot chilli powder
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground coriander
2 tbsp plain flour
150ml red wine or extra stock
300ml beef stock, made with 1beef stock cube
400g can chopped tomatoes
400g can of red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
3 tbsp tomato puree
1 tsp caster sugar
1 tsp dried oregano
1 bay leaf
Flaked sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Rapeseed oil


Place a large non-stick saucepan over medium heat, add a drizzle of rapeseed oil and then add the beef and onions. Cook together for five minutes, stirring the beef and squishing it against the sides of the pan to break up the lumps.

2 Add the garlic, 1-2 teaspoons of chilli powder (depending on how hot you like your chilli) and the cumin and coriander. Fry together for 1-2 minutes more.

3 Sprinkle the flour in and stir well.

4 Slowly add the wine and then the stock, stirring constantly.

5 Tip the tomatoes and kidney beans into the pan and stir in the tomato puree, caster sugar, oregano and bay leaf. Season with a pinch of salt and plenty of freshly ground black pepper.

6 Bring to a simmer on the hob, then cover loosely with a lid. Reduce the heat and leave to simmer gently for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the mince is tender and the sauce is thick. Adjust the seasoning to taste.

7 Serve with Mexican-style rice, Greek-style yoghurt, guacamole and pico de gallo.