HOW TO WIN A CHILI COOK-OFF

Hi Guys!

As you may know, my son, Austin, is an avid skier.  He races for Rim of the World High School.  As I’ve told you in this previous post, skiing is a very expensive sport!  So, every year the school has a Chili Cook-off to raise money for the team.  In past years, one of the coaches was the ceramics teacher at the school.  He came up with a brilliant idea: to offer a hand-thrown pottery bowl to everyone who buys a ticket to the Cook-off.

How To Win A Chili Cookoff | Get the recipe at www.AfterOrangeCounty.comHow To Win A Chili Cookoff | Get the recipe at www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

Ticket holders choose a bowl to use in tasting the chili, then get to go home with the ceramic bowl.  Personally, I go to the Chili Cook-off just to get one of these nifty bowls.

How To Win A Chili Cookoff | Get the recipe at www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

But I also go to the Chili Cook-off to compete and win!  For two years now, I have entered the Cook-off, and for two years I have won……

How To Win A Chili Cookoff | Get the recipe at www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

……SECOND PLACE!!!!  But, hey, I’ve got next year to try again for FIRST.   In the meantime, I’m going to keep perfecting the craft of chili making.  And, in the meantime, I thought I’d be real generous-like and show you “How To Win A Chili Cook-off,”  or at least show you how to win 2nd place.  Here are most of the ingredients you will need to make my winning chili recipe.  I say most because I forgot to include a couple of items in the photo.  So, I guess you’ll just have to pay extra special attention.

Chili Ingredients for How To Win A Chili Cookoff | Get the recipe at www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

See that brown onion in the above photo?  Get one of those, peel it and dice it up.

How To Win A Chili Cookoff | Get the recipe at www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

Then, take out your largest pot, pour in about 3 tablespoons of olive oil and heat up the pot.  Add the diced onions and cook them on medium low heat.

Here are most of the ingredients you will need.  I say most  because I forgot to include a couple of items in the photo.  So, I guess you'll just have to pay special attention.

In the meantime, dice up 5 cloves of fresh garlic and throw them in the pot with the onions.

How To Win A Chili Cookoff | Get the recipe at www.AfterOrangeCounty.comHow To Win A Chili Cookoff | Get the recipe at www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

Add 1 teaspoon each of kosher salt and coarse ground pepper to the onion & garlic and cook them until they are translucent and tender..

Here are most of the ingredients you will need.  I say most  because I forgot to include a couple of items in the photo.  So, I guess you'll just have to pay special attention.Here are most of the ingredients you will need.  I say most  because I forgot to include a couple of items in the photo.  So, I guess you'll just have to pay special attention.

Next, add 3 pounds of lean ground beef to the pot and season the meat with more salt and pepper.  Using a flat wooden spoon, break up the meat into small pieces. I don’t like big chunks of meat in my chile.

How To Win A Chili Cookoff | Get the recipe at www.AfterOrangeCounty.comHow To Win A Chili Cookoff | Get the recipe at www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

Cook the ground beef, continually breaking it up until it is no longer red.

How To Win A Chili Cookoff | Get the recipe at www.AfterOrangeCounty.comHow To Win A Chili Cookoff | Get the recipe at www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

Now, if you’re real smart, you will have noticed that below is a photo of one of the items not pictured above in the group photo of ingredients.  It is called “XLNT” Chile Con Carne.  I discovered that this stuff has a flavor and texture that gives my chili something I can’t seem to duplicate on my own.  I actually think it is the key to making my “winning chili.”  You buy it in the refrigerator case usually where the bacon is located.  I hope your store carries it.

How To Win A Chili Cookoff | Get the recipe at www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

Tear open the box and dump the contents into the pot.  Break it up and stir it until it is incorporated.

How To Win A Chili Cookoff | Get the recipe at www.AfterOrangeCounty.comHow To Win A Chili Cookoff | Get the recipe at www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

Now it’s time to add tomatoes.  I add one, 29 ounce can each of Tomato Puree, Petite Diced Tomatoes and Crushed Tomatoes.  Make sure you purchase them without added ingredients.  They are sold with various herbs or spices, but you just want the pure, unadulterated tomatoes.

How To Win A Chili Cookoff | Get the recipe at www.AfterOrangeCounty.comHow To Win A Chili Cookoff | Get the recipe at www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

Then, I throw in a 6 ounce can of Tomato Paste.  Tomato Paste was also missing in the group ingredient photo.  If you noticed you win the prize!

How To Win A Chili Cookoff | Get the recipe at www.AfterOrangeCounty.comHow To Win A Chili Cookoff | Get the recipe at www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

Now comes the winning ingredient: Chile Powder.  I add an entire 2.5 ounce jar of this stuff to my chili.  Chili powder is not hot, it’s just spicey, so don’t let it scare you.  It gives chili the flavor it needs to be, well, chili!

How To Win A Chili Cookoff | Get the recipe at www.AfterOrangeCounty.comHow To Win A Chili Cookoff | Get the recipe at www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

So, mix that chili powder in and give it a taste.  You will see that my chili recipe does not produce a hot chili, just a flavorful chili.  Also, determine if  it needs more salt & pepper and, if so, add more to taste.  And, sometimes I even add more chili powder!

How To Win A Chili Cookoff | Get the recipe at www.AfterOrangeCounty.comHow To Win A Chili Cookoff | Get the recipe at www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

Now, turn your temperature down to low, cover the chili and let it cook low and slow for a couple of hours.  Be sure to check on it periodically, give it a stir and insure that it is not sticking to the bottom of the pan. About 30 minutes before you plan to serve the chili, add 3 cans of Chili Beans to the pot.

How To Win A Chili Cookoff | Get the recipe at www.AfterOrangeCounty.comHow To Win A Chili Cookoff | Get the recipe at www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

I wait to add the beans until then because, if they are added before, they will have a tendency to be over cooked and will break apart – not a good thing.  You just want the beans heated through before serving.  You may have noticed I am not real brand-friendly and used several different brands of canned tomatoes and chili beans.  When I made this chili, I purposely selected two different brands of chili beans and did a taste-test to see which brand I preferred. Surprisingly, I liked the Stater Bros. store brand best for its flavor, but I noticed that it contained less beans, and more sauce, than the Sun Vista brand.  So, I probably got a nice balance using both brands.

How To Win A Chili Cookoff | Get the recipe at www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

Because I was entering this chili in a Chili Cook-off, I poured the chili into my slow cooker.  As you can see, it filled the 7 quart slow cooker to the top.  This is a large recipe, intended to feed a crowd.  If you’re not going to a Chili Cook-off it’s great to serve at a party.  A Super Bowl Party comes to mind!

How To Win A Chili Cookoff | Get the recipe at www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

OK folks, now I’m going to give away my biggest Chili Cook-off winning tip of all! It’s what sets my chili apart from the competition. And, it’s all in the presentation.  I serve my winning chili in fried tortilla cups!

How To Win A Chili Cookoff | Get the recipe at www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

The cups fit right in the ceramic bowls and they make a huge impression on folks. They are not only unexpected, but they are pretty, and they are edible!

How To Win A Chili Cookoff | Get the recipe at www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

I admit it is quite labor intensive to make these tortilla cups, and you do need a special tool to fry them into the shape of a cup.  But for me, it’s worth the extra effort.  So, let me show you how I do it.  First, I fill up a medium size pot with corn oil and get it good and hot.

How To Win A Chili Cookoff | Get the recipe at www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

Then, I get out my trusty frying thing-a-ma-jig.  I am sorry, but I don’t know what this thing-a-ma-jig is called.  I bought it at an Asian shop.  It’s a two-part, metal grid-like spoon, where one spoon is slightly smaller than the other so that they fit inside each other.

How To Win A Chili Cookoff | Get the recipe at www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

I line a large sheet pan with paper towels and start frying the tortillas.  I have tried many tortilla brands and find that I like the Guerrero brand Corn Tortillas best.

How To Win A Chili Cookoff | Get the recipe at www.AfterOrangeCounty.comHow To Win A Chili Cookoff | Get the recipe at www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

Once they are cooked hard and crispy and are starting to brown, remove them from the hot oil and place them on the paper towel to drain.

How To Win A Chili Cookoff | Get the recipe at www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

I use tongs to remove them from the frying spoons.

How To Win A Chili Cookoff | Get the recipe at www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

I place them in a long, lined basket and wa la!  I have a beautiful, unique and tasty way to serve my winning chili!

How To Win A Chili Cookoff | Get the recipe at www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

The final step is to prepare your garnishes.  I serve my chili with finely grated cheddar cheese and diced green onions.

How To Win A Chili Cookoff | Get the recipe at www.AfterOrangeCounty.comHow To Win A Chili Cookoff | Get the recipe at www.AfterOrangeCounty.comHow To Win A Chili Cookoff | Get the recipe at www.AfterOrangeCounty.comHow To Win A Chili Cookoff | Get the recipe at www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

Now, all that’s left is to go to the chili cook-off……

How To Win A Chili Cookoff | Get the recipe at www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

and WIN!  And support your local Ski Team while you are at it !!

How To Win A Chili Cookoff | Get the recipe at www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

Good luck winning your next Chili Cook-off.  But hey, if you happen to enter the Rim of the World High School Ski Team Chili Cook-off, get your own recipe, ya hear!

All opinions expressed in this post are my own.   All photos are the original property of Celia Becker @ www.AfterOrangeCounty.com and may not be reproduced without specific permission.

AWARD WINNING CHILI
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
This spicy, but not hot, chili recipe feeds a crowd! Serve it at your next party, or use it to win a Chili Cook-Off. Serve it up in fried tortilla cups to really wow the crowd!
Author:
Recipe type: Main Dish
Cuisine: American
Serves: 20
Ingredients
  • 3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 1 Brown Onion, Diced
  • 5 Fresh Garlic Cloves, Diced
  • 1 Teaspoon Each of Kosher Salt and Coarse Ground Pepper
  • 3 Lbs Lean Ground Beef
  • 1 Pkg. XLNT Chili Con Carne
  • 1 29 Oz. Can Tomato Puree
  • 1 29 Oz. Can Diced Tomatoes
  • 1 29 Oz. Can Crushed Tomatoes
  • 1 6 Oz. Can Tomato Paste
  • 1 2.5 Oz. Jar Chili Powder
  • 3 14 Oz. Cans Chili Beans
  • Kosher Salt & Coarse Ground Pepper to Taste
Instructions
  1. Add olive oil to a large pot and heat.
  2. Once oil is heated, add the diced onion and garlic along with 1 tsp. each, salt & pepper.
  3. Cook until the onions are translucent.
  4. Add the ground beef and cook, breaking up the into small pieces.
  5. Cook meat until it is no longer red.
  6. Add more salt & pepper to taste.
  7. Mix in 1 pkg. XLNT Chili Con Carne.
  8. Stir in 1 full, 2.5 ounce jar of chili powder to the meat mixture.
  9. If needed, add more salt & pepper to taste.
  10. Cook on low heat for 2 hours. Check on it periodically, stirring each time to insure that it does not stick to the bottom of the pot.
  11. A half hour before serving stir in 3 cans of chili beans. Cook until the beans are heated through.
  12. Serve in fried corn tortilla cups.
  13. Garnish with grated cheddar cheese and diced green onions.
  14. ENJOY!

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