Saturday, February 16, 2013

Voodoo Chili

Well I was standing next to the crockpot
I added Jalapenos and I smiled
I was standing next to the crockpot
Chopping habaneros with some guile

The second Annual Risk Dept. Chili Cook-Off was held last weekend, concluding weeks of planning, scheming, trash talk, finessing and stealing recipes.  Shopping lists were made, erased, and added to.  To the faithful, the age old questions remained: whether to add beans?  How much tomatoes?  What kind of meat?  Which varieties of peppers?  I swear wars have started over the beans / no-beans thing.

Making chili is both art and science.  Too much of one thing and you get stew, too much of something else and it well be a hot mess. After doing my research and reading up on the Chili Queens of San Antone, I deemed beans to be required.  This year I left the shopping a bit late and could not find fresh jalapenos, so it was serranos and habaneros (and plenty of each).  I used a couple of pounds of chuck steak that I cubed and few pork sausages to boot.  I used chili powder and some other seasonings.  Big old onion and fresh garlic went in too.  The piece de resistance, a can of Guinness.  If I had to do it again, I would ease back on the tomatoes.

The result was decent, maybe not my best.  The competition was fierce, nine entrants.  There would have been ten but one guy was in Florida and his Black Bear Chili did not make it.  He shot a bear in Alaska last summer and yes, it was going in the pot.  We did however have venison chili, chicken chili and assorted other creations. We had three prize categories: Overall Best, Most Unusual and Hottest (picante not caliente).  Yours truly won the latter.  The chicken concoction won Most Unusual - it was a close cousin to gumbo but tasty none-the-less.

I was surprised at my victory and I can think of several things I can improve upon.  However, there is nothing like having office bragging rights for a year.  The prize was some Tabasco, corn bread and big tube of venison salami which my fine young sons have almost devoured.

The planning for next year has already begun.

Some of the entrants awaiting the severe taste buds, scathing eye and caustic comments  of the Judges

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