Sunday, February 20, 2011

Superbowl Chili Cook-off!!

So, it has been a few weeks already since the Green Bay Packers (yay, Aaron Rogers!) beat the Pittsburgh Steelers (boo, Ben Rothlisberger!), but I had to write about our family's big win in the Superbowl Chili Cook-off hosted by our BFF Morgan.
Last year, Morgan and Matt made yummy ribs, but there was way too much work involved, so we decided to do chili this year, and Matt and I took it VERY seriously.

We started off by
boasting, then realized we better work on our recipe, which was always good but pretty basic - just start with onions and spices, brown the meat, and add canned tomatoes, beans and some cut up peppers, a little stock and beer - voila! With rice, and toppings, this was always more than good, but was it championship? I didn't think so. . . .

Did some recipe research and thought I hit a winner when I found this
recipe from "Cooks Illustrated." They seemed to have tested every type of meat, bean, spice and special addition!
Not sure if this link will work (you probably need to copy and paste it in your browser), and it is only up for a few months on the Cooks Illustrated site, so check it out while you can!

The meat was Delmonico steak from Marlow & Daughters in Williamsburg - cut into 3/4" cubes. I knew we had a winning recipe when we called Marlow & Daughters to
order themeat, told the guy about the recipe, and he said it sounded right to him - a veteran chili cook-off, winner, a butcher, and a Texan!! Besides adding a bit of cornmeal, cocoa powder and molasses during the cooking, the other secret was to used toasted dried chili peppers and to make a paste out of them in a food processor. Of course, we also used dried beans this time around instead of canned. It took Matt and the kids a couple hours at Fairway to assemble all the required stuff!

It smelled good right away, looked nice and chunky once the onions and chili paste were cooking, then a bit soupy once the tomatoes, beans, and liquid were added. However, after cooking on the stove, it went into the oven for nearly two hours and the meat simmered and added lots of richness and flavor, so by the time it came out, it was looking good!
The competition at Morgan's was pretty tough, as we knew it would be so we stopped bragging before we got there. There was some veggie chili, two variations of yummy green pork chili, and a dark earthy venison chili made by Morgan's son, Calvin. Our friend Theseus was the impartial organizer of the voting process. Each chili got a letter and everyone had to rank their choices in order from one to six. A spreadsheet was used to tabulate the chili with the lowest number of points - quite complicated. Theseus noted that the "exit poll" showed our chili
-- Letter B, was pretty empty when all the eating was done, and this proved valid when we edged out Ellen's Bon Appetit green chili to be the winners!! Calvin came in third, and our kids were only disappointed that first prize was a bottle of Salt Lick BBQ and a fancy bottle
of wine instead of the iTunes gift cards given to 2nd and 3rd place.

So, if you want some good chili - get good meat and make your own chili paste!
Suggestions for next year's Super Bowl Menu would be welcome. Sliders? 7 Layer Dip?

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