Chili Cookoff CHAMP!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Recently I went to a chili cookoff but I never thought I would win because a) I've never cooked chili before and there were chili champs all around! Anyway, since I didn't really think I was going to win, and I slightly messed up the recipe, I didn't take any pictures of it!!

I remember him saying, "You know how you can tell who has the best chili?" I asked, "How?!" and he replied, "Whoever has the empty pot!!" Well, I'll tell you this much...I was the only one with the empty pot at the end of the competition!!!

Here's a quick recipe, as it was SUPER easy to cook. This recipe is basically a combination random recipes that I found online, from www.allrecipes.com as well as www.recipezaar.com. I looked at Food Network as well, but it didn't really inspire me.

Award-winning Chili Recipe

2 teaspoons of vegetable oil
2 lbs of 85% fat ground beef
1 onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
3 chili peppers, minced (i used bird's eye chili, but you can use jalepenos, or whatever you have on hand)
2 chipotle chiles in adobe sauce, minced (usually found with mexican canned foods)
1 can of dark red kidney beans
1 can of light red kidney beans
1 can of pinto beans
1 can of tomato sauce
2 cans of tomato paste
1 can of whole tomatoes, crushed into chili with your hands
1 can of beer (bud light, bud, etc., nothing TOO fancy!)
1 cup of strong coffee
1 cup of water
3 cubes (or 3 tablespoons) of beef bouillon
1 tablespoon of brown sugar
1 tablespoon of cumin
3 tablespoons of chili powder
1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon of oregano
1 teaspoon of ground coriander
1 teaspoon of salt

Does this list make your head spin!? The spice list is much better than using store bought mixes, that's for sure!

Heat up 2 teaspoons of vegetable oil in medium high heat and cook your onions for about a minute, then add the beef and garlic. Once browned, add all the spices - cumin, chili powder, cayenne pepper, oregano, ground coriander, salt - adding the spice before liquids helps bring out some of the flavors of the spice.

Now, add your liquids - beer, hand-crushed whole tomatoes, tomato paste, tomato sauce, coffee, water. Also add your chopped chilis peppers, chopped chipotle chile, beef bouillon, brown sugar and the dark and light red kidney beans.

Bring to a boil and simmer for 2 hours. At this point, I transferred the chili into a slow cooker, and cooked it on high for 4 more hours. I think this was one of the key points to the chili because this helped soothe out the spiciness of all the chili peppers and powders. An hour before I wanted to serve my chili, I put in my last can of pinto beans.

Once you're done, garnish with sour cream and cheese. Other options include, but are not limited to, tortilla chips, cilantro, green onions, avocados, the list is endless!!

Scoping out the Competition

So in this competition, people brought all kinds of chilis, from turkey chilis, chicken chilis, white bean chilis to regular-old chili. Of the 30 chilis that were submitted, I tasted each and every one of them...so in my opinion, what made this recipe the winning recipe?

1) The 3 different beans helped keep this chili interesting and gave it some visual interest.

2) The layers of flavors: the chipotle peppers helped bring out a smokey flavor, brown sugar helped give it a bit of sweetness, and of course, all the different chili peppers gave it an interesting balance of spice.

In general, some of the other chilis had an issue of "too much", for example, one chili had too much meat (no beans at all), making it more like taco meat than a chili. Another pot of chili had an overpowering amount of garlic, so when you first tasted the chili, all you taste is garlic!!

I wish I took pictures of this event, next time I'll definitely remember to bust out that camera!! Anyway, I hope this recipe helps make you the next chili cook-off champ! Let me know if you try this out and win!

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