Sunday, April 17, 2011

Ward Chili Cook-Off

There's just something about a cook-off that stirs a little bit of excitement in my soul. So, when I found out my ward (church) was having a chili contest, I signed up.

For the contest, I wanted to go very classic and very good. Not just the typical dump a bunch of seasoning, tomatoes, beans, and ground meat in a pot and simmer. Anyone can do that. I wanted something more authentic, full of flavor, and outside the norm of Mormon family go-to meals.

So, I turned to one of my best cookbooks, "Cooks Illustrated, American Classics" and found a Chili Con Carne recipe that looked appealing and slightly challenging, but completely rewarding. The recipe included toasting and grinding Ancho and New Mexico chilies, something I've never done before, but something I will definitely do again, because it made my house smell like a casita. I also toasted some whole cumin seeds and ground those up, added lots of Mexican oregano, and that was the spice base for the chili.

So as not to bore you with any more cooking details. The recipe also included a large chuck roast, jalapenos, 1 itty-bitty can of tomato puree, onion, garlic, bacon, and well you can read the recipe in the picture if you're interested. Out of about 15 pots of chillis, my chili got a bit of recognition.

Although I didn't win the coveted best-tasting award, (by the way, the judges were pulled from the crowd and probably took about 5 minutes to taste and pick awards, so it's not like it was that official) I did receive a few awards...that I found amusing.

And no, they didn't try to find an award for every chili, so actually I was quite proud that I got recognized twice, but I did think it was weird/funny that I got an award for "most unusual." So, authentic chili flavors are unusual these days, huh? And then, "hottest?" Well, I didn't think I made a five-alarm chili - it was medium spicy. Perfectly spicy actually. Not too hot, but with a little kick. I mean, on a scale of 1-10, I ranked it a 4, but whatever. What it really means is that the chili stood out and somebody appreciated the one habanero I snuck in there because I only found 3 decent looking jalapenos at the grocery store the night before.

Too bad I didn't take a picture of the silky scarlet concoction, but next time I will, because that was some darn good chili that I will definitely be making and consuming again...but on the second day, because chili is even better the next day!


Bridget said...

Oh, that sounds so delicious! I was really sad we couldn't make it, but our fam was sick. You seriously need to take pics next time you make it, it sounds fabulous!

Barbara Bakes said...

The chili sounds fantastic. Definitely not your standard Mormon chili.