I am never going to use dried beans again (unless a movie star specifically tells me to).  They never, ever go soft for me, no matter how long I cook the little beggers.  I cooked the beans for this chilli as Raymond directed me to, with salt pork (in my case pancetta) after soaking them overnight.

There was no cooking time so I had them ticking over for 3 hours (it said one hour on the packet) and they were still not soft.  I added all the other bits and bobs in the recipe and stuck it all in my slow cooker to bibble away overnight on low.


8 hours later, the beans were still not soft.  They were edible but crumbly.

I should have asked my friend the food writer Sam Kilgour about dried beans BEFORE making this dish rather than after.  She said that there’s no point unless you have a pressure cooker.  We had a good laugh about the fact that everyone says you can get more flavour into a dried bean cooked up but Sam said, “If I want to get flavour into my beans I take them out of the tin and put them into a delicious stew.”  I know what she means and I hereby announce I am forgetting about dried beans for the foreseeable future.

When I told Sam I STILL didn’t really know what the UK equivalent of fat salt pork was she gave me sound advice, “it’s just brined pork.”  She suggested that next time I use a ham hock or even “some pigs trotters salted and left in the fridge for a couple of days would do the trick.” Well, that’s a step too far for me, but I did take her point that my using a slab of pricy pancetta for this was “a bit of a waste of pancetta.”

If you like a fairly plain chilli this one might be for you. ½ to ¾ teaspoon of chilli powder seems a TINY amount to me (I used more) and there are no other herbs or spices or flavour boosters. I guess if you used a super powerful chilli powder you could ramp up the flavour stakes, but for my money adding some chilli sauce and a good few glugs of Worcestershire sauce at the table is the way to go with this particular chilli.

I used Mexene chilli powder as I’d bought some for Johnny Cash’s Chilli The brand was specified by the great man himself, so I asked Heather & Nathan to bring me some back from the States.

(I still really, really want a vintage Mexene tin with a little devil on it)

I didn’t want Johnny’s reaction to me using a different kind of chilli powder than Mexene in his dish to be this.

So as with all movie star recipes I make, I do it as closely as I can to the written word, but if I make this again it would be with tinned beans and a lot more chilli powder!

This recipe will be going in the Cooking The Detectives book alongside the entry for Ironside.

Like Lieutenant Columbo, Ironside loves chilli.

Note – A #2 can holds 1 pound 4 ounces, 2 ½ cups, or 566 grams of tomatoes depending on your measuring stick of choice.

Raymond Burr’s Chili Supreme

1½ pounds ground round steak

2 large onions

2 tablespoons Wesson oil

1 pound dried red beans

Chunk of salt pork

1 x #2 can of tomatoes

Chili powder to taste (about ½ to ¾ teaspoon)

Cook beans in a large pan along with salt pork until the beans are good and tender, let them boil down until the soup is thick.

Saute ground beef, onions along with chili powder until done.  Add to beans and can of tomatoes, continue to cook in saucepan for 2 hour or more under a very low heat.  This produces a sweet succulent chili like you have never tasted before.  Better the second day.

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