Wednesday, November 28, 2007

another chili recipe

Wherein I'm simplifyin'

Chili cookoff at work Friday. I always do a new recipe and as such meant to test a couple batches by now. Ha! First batch gets done tonight so if it sucks I have time for a redo tomorrow.

Recipes have become needlessly complex ( see my Cincinnati Green -- last year, someone claimed to have 15 different types of meats -- so I'm getting back to the basics.

here's my working list:
2 pounds beef
2 T chili powder
2 tsp cup ground cumin
.25 tsp cayenne pepper
1 bay leaf
1.5 T unsweetened cocoa
3.5 cups crushed tomatoes (28oz)
1 6 oz. can tomato paste
a couple chipotle peppers with adobo sauce

I like a very tomatoey chili, so all my liquid is tomato. I'm browning (bacon fat) and simmering chuck roast tonight, but if I'm not happy with the consistency I'll use ground round tomorrow -- simmered in all the ingredients without prebrowning. Still undecided about using the onions and garlic, but if I do the onions will be carmelized. I add salt after it has finished cooking. Still undecided about the chili powder to cumin ratio.


Update: Huh, I finished 2nd and took home a giant pile of booty. There's no accounting for taste as this was easily the worst chili I've entered. I was so unhappy with the batch I made Wednesday night that I wanted to do a do-over batch on Thursday, but ran out of time. I pretty much followed the recipe above and the balance was all wonky -- too much heat to taste made it almost bitter. Added a couple teaspoons of sugar and a couple tablespoons of vinegar made it a little better. Reheated it in the crockpot Friday afternoon for a couple hours before the contest and at the last minute tweaked it with some salt and freshly squoze lime juice (the acid helps balance out the heat). It was...well, it wasn't embarrassing. But people liked it and the pot was quickly emptied. If I had to redo it, I'd probably reduce the amount of cumin and maybe use just one chipotle.

For previous contests I have three 3rd place chilis and an additional top 5 finish. The top 5 was easily my best chili and I skipped the last couple cookoffs because it didn't place higher.

We have an odd judging system where presentation accounts for a lot of points. And by presentation I'm referring to tarting up the crockpot -- large posters, multilevel displays, armies of figurines, etc. This year's theme was Star Wars and one contestant set up a laptop playing the movie. I guess people find that sort of thing enjoyable while I think it takes away from the purity of the chili. This year, instead of just going with a nameplate in front of the chili, I decided to mock all other chilis and make fun of the whole concept. Rather than bitch and moan about not winning, just accept the fact and taunt everyone else. I'm guessing the judges found this amusingly ironic -- I was going for personally insulting -- because I scored big on the presentation points. Afterwards, I saw one score card and for presentation I had 4 of 5 points. Go figure.

Give the people what they want and what they want is crap.


Blogger reader_iam said...

Gotta use onions, dude. And where the hell are the beans?

I like more heat, myself, but ... no matter ... where and when should I turn up for lunch?


Not a cookoff, but I just volunteered to make two huge pots of chili (one veg, one not) for a chili supper Sunday after next. So I've been thinking chili myself. I'll probably go with the unsweetened (or dark) chocolate squares this year in the veg version, anyone.

Thumbs up on your including cocoa!

11/28/2007 10:02:00 PM  
Blogger bill said...

I'm a big fan of cocoa or chocolate in chili. Adds a little depth. Beans I might occasionally add, but I'd never make chili with beans for a cookoff nor include them in a recipe. Someone wants beans, they can add it themselves.

11/28/2007 11:08:00 PM  
Blogger Ahistoricality said...

My problem with chili has always been caution. Either I throw it to the winds and suffer the consequences, or I hold back and it's way too mild.

I keep forgetting the cocoa, too, which bums me out.

Ever tried nutmeg?

12/03/2007 04:35:00 PM  
Blogger bill said...

Not in chili. Not even my Cincinnati chili recipe includes nutmeg.

12/04/2007 01:00:00 PM  

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