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Old 10-24-2007, 10:18 AM   #1
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Chili Competition

I never thought I'd enter the world of competition cooking, but here it goes. The city government is sponsoring a chili cookoff, and since my fiance' is an employee of the city she would like me to enter something.

I've been through the forum search and found some very interesting ideas, and one thread even pointed me to a recipe page for the International Chili Society. Again I found some good ideas, and will probably even use some of them. What I'd really like to know, is what does everyone look for in their chili? There's more ways to cook it than there are grains of sand on the beach, which is why I'd like to know what everyone else likes.

For example, do you prefer beef or pork? Do you like the meat ground? What cut of meat? Do you like beans? If so what kind? Do you prefer your chili to be thin or thick? Spicy or mild? How heavy on the tomatos? Lots of veggies or no (by this I mean aromatics... onion, green pepper, etc.)? Do you like chilis in your chili?

I have 2 different ideas so far: one is to make a really rich,almost mole-like chili with a base of ancho peppers as well as tomato. The other idea I had is totally off the wall, and uses a specialty ingredient that I don't really know if I'll be able to get my hands on in time. It uses this Chinese relative of the peppercorn, and they use it in hot-pot meals over in Asia. What it does is create an intense cooling effect, I'm told it's a lot like those minty gum flavors, like that cool you feel when you chew winterfresh. The idea is to combine those whith some very hot chilis, and what it does is create a hot-cool sensation.

These ideas are far from complete, but I'd appreciate your opinions on what makes great chili. Thanks!

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Old 10-24-2007, 10:20 AM   #2
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I love beef over pork and when you are making chili we found out that is good to try different things.
for ex. if it is too hot then add some choclate. i would go with some good ol habeneros. We are in a chili cookoff as well. I need a good slogan for our team name the halotards
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Old 10-24-2007, 10:29 AM   #3
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I prefer beef.
I like the beef cut into small cubes rather than ground beef.
Not too much tomato.
It should be thick, not watery like a soup.
There should be lots of chiles but not so hot it's impossible to eat.

Remember it's a dish of peppers and meat (chili con carne).
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Old 10-24-2007, 11:06 AM   #4
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A beautiful color! Made with both small diced chuck + some ground chuck.
No beans, towards the thick side yet creamy. Some tomatoes with lots of small diced veggies. A few chili peppers, and chili powder, cumin, masa.
I personally like it on the "Hot' side, but go easy on the judges!

Good Luck & Have Fun!
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Old 10-24-2007, 12:49 PM   #5
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Now I've got a few moments between classes, here's a link to those peppercorns I mentioned: Hua Jiao / Sichuan Pepper It's a very interesting ingredient, one that I'll certainly play with in the future, but I may hold off on using it for chili, it might just be too out there.

Thanks for the input, everyone!


Uncle Bob- I'm curious about the use of masa in chili, I've not really seen/heard of that before and I'm curious about it. Is it there to thicken the chili and give it a little more heartiness? I do have some masa at home, and this might be an interesting way to use it.

Here's what I've been thinking of doing so far: I want to start by rendering some bacon in a large saute pan, strain it and reserve a little bit of that fat. I want to add to that pan the reserved fat and and some finely diced white onion, green pepper, a little bit or carrot and celery. I was thinking of going really small, maybe 1/16 inch dice, or do you think that is too small? In a separate pan I wanted to brown some cubes of sirloin roast I have here, and then dump those into a large stock pot. In that pan I then want to deglaze with this peppery shiraz I have in mind, and let that reduce. I'll add my veggies and reduced wine to the stock pot, along with some crushed tomato and beef broth, and I had planned on beans, but I'm not 100% on that yet. Would most of you prefer red beans or black beans? Also to the pot would go my ancho pepper puree, and lots of it. Season it a little bit with S+P, and add some chili powder and cumin.

At this point I think the best course of action is to just let that meat braise at a very low temp for a long time, correct? About Near the end I want to add some dark chocolate and a little bit of peanut butter, and also my chiles. I'm open to suggestions on which chiles to add.

At this point I'll just slowly cook it until it reaches a good consistency, and maybe toss in some scallions right at the end.
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Old 10-24-2007, 02:57 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by college-cook
Uncle Bob- I'm curious about the use of masa in chili, I've not really seen/heard of that before and I'm curious about it. Is it there to thicken the chili and give it a little more heartiness? I do have some masa at home, and this might be an interesting way to use it.

Yes, masa is (sometimes) used to thicken chili. It also adds a distinctive flavor that to me IS chili. I add it about 30 minutes before the end of cooking to achieve the desired consistency I want, and to add that special flavor. Add a little at a time to allow it to do it's magic. Then after tasting and stirring add more to suit you taste. Too much will over power.

Enjoy!
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Old 10-24-2007, 03:37 PM   #7
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I would definitely not go with habaneros in a chili competition. They can be far too hot for the casual taster at a cookoff. I've cooked in a number of competitions, and in the friendly ones, we add all kinds of things, but in the official championships, the rules are much more strict. There it was almost never ground meat - always fine dice - and a beautifully colored, smooth textured sauce. They don't like chunks of anything in these contests. I agree with Uncle Bob about the masa for thickening.

BC
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Old 10-24-2007, 06:29 PM   #8
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Hey, BlueCat!

Just for fun one time, thinking that I might want to try to compete in chili competitions, I made a recipe from one of the Texas chili competition websites one time (I think it was Terlingua?). I did have some help and advice from a Texas chili champion.

I had trouble eating more than just a spoonful or two at one time. It was intensely seasoned (three different adds) and very, very rich. I didn't care for it at all. But I grew up on ground beef and kidney bean chili, which I love, so consider the source. :-)

Now, I know in BBQ competition I have to grab the judges' attention in a bite or two, so I prepare my competition meats more heavily seasoned and sauced than I do for at-home eating.

Do you do the same for your chili competitions?

Lee
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