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Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Tasty Tuesday: Chili Cook-Off Planning and Winning Chili

I am in the midst of putting together a chili competition for the third year in a row where I work. Once it is all over, I will be sharing all my fun graphics on the blog. It is not too terribly complicated to put together a cook-off. I secured six secret judges from our staff and started a month out with sign ups for the competition, complete with a flaming skull (oh yeah) and anonymous competitors. The competitors have to bring their best game-revealing how hot the chili is and the meat it contains (because some people may not want to unknowingly eat lamb or bison). We have a coveted homemade trophy that moves from victor to victor. Competition gets a little fierce!

Here are my tips for creating a winning chili competition:
1. Have amazing graphics that people will repeatedly recognize and love. 
2. Make sure competitors are top secret-that makes them want to try harder.
3. Have a tray with tiny sample cups for your, again, secret judges that contains just a taste and pallet cleansers like apples or crackers.
4. Have a cool trophy or winning incentive.
5. Hype up the competition throughout your party, making sure everyone knows they are part of the voting. Encourage tasting and voting for a "people's choice" award. 


Now that you know what to do and how to host you need a recipe to wow the crowd! When I entered the McQuain family I gained a husband with a beloved chili recipe. He makes this chili about 2-3 times every Fall/Winter and we enjoy it for weeks (as does any dinner guest in the span of a few days). You can put this in the "freezes beautifully" section of your cookbook (Steel Magnolia reference #432...I hope you have watched it by now). And it is always best a day or two after you make it. Make sure you have some yummy cheddar or jack cheese on hand and some cornbread or crackers. A little sour cream and Fritos never hurt anyone either. 

Chili by a man named Ed:

  1. 2lbs hot Italian sausage, 3lbs lean hamburger meat, 1/4 c red wine -- Brown the meat with the wine, stirring to break up the bigger pieces. If you are watching your fat content, you can drain the fat off after browning the meat...we do most of the time. 
  2. 2 large yellow onions chopped, 1 package fresh white mushrooms sliced, 8 hot green chilis sliced, 6 15oz cans stewed tomatoes, 1 bulb of garlic chopped (about 10 cloves), 2 6oz cans tomato paste, 2 15oz cans tomato sauce, {rinse and drain all beans} 2 cans red kidney beans, 2 15oz cans pinto beans, 3 15oz cans black beans, 3/4 c brown sugar, 1/4 c fresh parsley chopped, 2 tbs oregano, 1 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes, 4 tbs chili powder, 1 tbs black ground pepper, 1 tbs salt, 4 tbs cumin -- Add all the remaining ingredients to the meat, working as you go. No need to pre-chop...cook over a low heat for at least one hour. You can always cook longer. 


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