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Chili con Carne with Lettuce and Cheese (Jacques Pépin)

Chili con Carne with Lettuce and Cheese (Jacques Pépin)

It's time for IHCC's monthly Mystery Box Madness Challenge again!

Modus operandi is the same: we can choose a dish from one of IHCC's twelve chefs. This time round, the chosen dish must contain at least three of these mystery ingredients: any white-fleshed fish, green leaf lettuce, pine nuts, dill, cheddar cheese, almond extract or almond liqueur, blueberries (fresh, frozen or dried), cornstarch, bell pepper, black beans.

Interesting ingredients! Initially, I wanted to bake a dessert with blueberries because my 21.5-month toddler LOVES blueberries. He can stuff himself silly with blueberries until I have to hide the container from his sight.

Then I found Jacques Pépin's Chili con Carne recipe and fallen head over heels for it! The three mystery ingredients are: black beans (to replace red kidney beans), green leaf lettuce, cheddar cheese.

Recipe adapted from Jacques Pépin's More Fast Food My Way.

(Serves 4)

3/4 pound coarsely ground beef
1 cup canned black beans, drained
1/2 cup canned baked beans, drained
2 cups onions, coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons garlic, coarsely chopped
3/4 cup leek (green leaves section), thinly sliced
1 cup canned tomato puree
4 medium ripe tomatoes, chopped
2 green chillies, seeds removed & cut into round slices
1 red chilli, seeds removed & cut into round slices
1 & 1/2 tablespoons paprika powder
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1 & 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 bay leaves
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons salt
3 cups cold water

8 large iceberg or romaine lettuce leaves
2 cups grated cheddar cheese

How to:

1. Put all ingredients (except the garnishes) in a large, heavy saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and cook gently, covered, for 1 & 1/2 hours. When done, open the lid, and stir the chili. Remove the bay leaves.

2. To serve, arrange the lettuce leaves to resemble cups and ladle the chili into the leaves. Sprinkle on some grated cheddar cheese.

Notes from Jacques Pépin:

A little cocoa powder is added to give this chili dish a bit of depth, similar to the Mexican sauce called mole.

This dish can also be made in a pressure cooker and requires less than 1 hour.

He often serves chili over crunchy iceberg or romaine lettuce leaves, with a sprinkling of grated Monterey Jack, mozzarella, or cheddar, a little cilantro, and some sliced onions on top. (I omitted cilantro and sliced onions because I don't like eating them raw.)

I'm linking this post with I Heart Cooking Clubs (IHCC) for this week's theme, June 2015: Mystery Box Madness Challenge!


Previous Mystery Box Madness recipes:

May 2015: Mediterranean Salad (adapted from Giada De Laurentiis)

April 2015: Tarragon, Chicken & Ham Pasties (Donna Hay)

March 2015: Boeuf Bourguignon (Mark Bittman)

February 2015: Round and Round Pasta (Giada De Laurentiis)

January 2015: Blueberry Buttermilk Cake (Tessa Kiros)

December 2014: Curried Lentil Soup with Potatoes (Mark Bittman) 

November 2014: Date, Apricot, Chia Seeds Tea Bread (adapted from Diana Henry)


  1. Hi Joyce,
    These wraps must be very delicious ... interesting with added cocoa powder to this chilli dish. May try it and thanks for sharing :D

  2. Looks like a good recipe. I liked your story of your blueberry loving son.

  3. Hi Joyce,
    I almost make this! haha! I thought of adding red peppers! Maybe next time. Yours look delicious!

  4. Very appetizing dish, Joyce. Adding cocoa powder to enhance the flavor is a great tip. I'd would try it next time with chili.

  5. I could do go for some of this right now as it is winter here and this looks warm and welcoming, not to mention yummy!
    Congrats on also completing the June Mystery Box Challenge at IHCC!!

  6. So nice that your little guy loves blueberries! Love the idea of serving chili in lettuce leaves. Very healthy yet satisfying. Love the way you used the mystery box ingredients!