Recipe to Riches is a clever piece of cross-promotion by Channel 10 and Woolworths, and features home cooks battling against each other to get a product onto supermarket shelves. Running over 12 weeks, each episode features a different category of food and three hopeful cooks, with the winning product each week available to buy from Woolworths for one week only after its episode is screened. Whoever sells the most wins $100,000, and presumably their product on the supermarket shelves for good.

There have been three episodes so far, and unfortunately I didn’t get to try week one’s winning “Concetta’s Croqs” (potato and rice croquettes). Week two’s category was frozen foods, and the winner was “Sara Jade’s Chilli Con Carne” made by Sara-Jade Bradbury, a flight attendant from Western Australia. I was intrigued by this as chilli con carne is one of my favourite things, although its something I never order out because it’s never rich or spicy enough. I usually have a can of Stagg Chilli in the cupboard for emergencies, and have had success with this recipe when entertaining (it’s better than Heston’s one, for readers with a long memory).

Here’s what you get in the box for $5.99 – a 300g tub of chilli and a 35g bag of corn chips. The cooking instructions for  the stove-top are a bit odd, they start with “allow Chilli Con Carne to thaw overnight in a refrigerator, remove seal and decant entire contents into a saucepan”. That’s a long wait for dinner.

Things are a lot simpler in the microwave, although when I pulled the tub out to stir it, it gave way in the middle and steaming hot chilli came spilling out all over the microwave and the cupboard beneath. Grr. Placing the tub on a small plate worked a lot better, and the instructions should be amended.

…and here’s the finished product. My first observation was that this wasn’t really a meal sized portion, and there’s only 300g of chilli con carne here as opposed to 425g from a can of Stagg. Surprisingly, it doesn’t taste mass produced, actually has some flavour and you can taste the chilli. Some of the meat was a bit chewy and although the individual beans and vegetables were clearly visible everything was cooked really well. Not bad at all – for something out of the freezer anyway.

I threw in a few splashes of habanero-variety Tabasco sauce which gave it some real substance and enhanced the natural flavours of the chilli con carne without just adding heat for the sake of it. A dollop of sour cream added some body, too.

After trying this chilli con carne twice I’m happy to say that I’m impressed with this product, and if it hits the shelves for good it will probably take the place of good ol’ Stagg as my emergency chilli con carne standby. I’d like more in the bowl and less in the chip bag to make it a meal rather than just a snack, but that’s probably just me.

Week three’s winner was a smoked chilli & garlic sauce, which is in my pantry and I’ll review it when I can decide what to do with it. I’m looking forward to seeing who wins in coming weeks – especially “man food”!