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Competition style chili

Credit: AJC Staff

Credit: AJC Staff

I was a contender.

Almost.

Once upon a time, I had fantasies of being a chili champion. Not because I had any real experience that would deserve such a title, but because I had a team of friends willing to band together and compete in the Atlanta Chili Cook Off (now known as the Great Miller Lite cook-off, which is sort of embarrassing.)

We prepped for weeks. I spent that time trying to educate myself as much as possible on the nuances of competition style chili, versus the (what I later came to understand) abomination style chili that I grew up on. I made practice batch after batch in preparation. And then, only days from the official registration deadline, I find out that my team has fallen apart. Too many people had more pressing engagements pop up that prevented them from attending, and a team of one wouldn’t be all the much fun.

So, I didn’t make my foray into the work of competition chili, but during all of my prep work, I gained a new appreciation for competition style chili.

Chili is one of those dishes that isn’t all that hard to make and is a salve to the gut on a freezing winter day. Time is the biggest ingredient in a good chili, and it always goes over well with the group.

First off, this isn’t a chili that you can do in thirty minutes. I prefer to use a finely diced tri tip for my beef, nice a lean, cutting down on that orange pool of grease that so often collects on the surface. I also like how competition style chili does away with all of the fussiness…no beans, no corn, nothing but beef, chilies, and spices. Not judging here, I know some of you weirdoes like to ladle your chili over spaghetti, but that aint for me. I fell in love with competition style.

I came across a great little almanac of winning recipes from 1988-2000 from the Terlingua International Chili Competition. It also has a great primer on the competition vs. home-style chili, and if you want to try your hand at it, it is a good place to start.

After playing with many of the recipes, I found one in here that I’ve been sticking with. I have not done much modification, perhaps switch out the meat for tri-tip, venison, or bison – all of which are simply awesome with this recipe – and I’ve always gotten a great reception from guests.

Jim Hedrick’s “Doc J’s” Chili, winner in 1994:

Part One: 3 lbs. chuck

1 can beef broth

1 can chicken broth

1 can (8oz) tomato sauce

1 Tbsp. granulated Onion

2 tsp. beef bouillon

3 Tbsp. chili powder

1 tsp. chicken bouillon

1/4 tsp. red pepper

1 tsp. jalapeno powder

Part Two: 1/4 tsp. black pepper

1/2 tsp. onion powder

2 tsp. granulated garlic

1/4 tsp. white pepper

1 Tbsp. ground cumin

1/4 tsp. red pepper

3 Tbsp. chili Powder

Part Three: 2 Tbsp. Chili Powder

1 tsp. ground cumin

1/4 tsp. red pepper

1/4 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. MSG

Instructions: This recipe takes 3 hours to cook. Brown meat in small amount of oil or Crisco. Add tomato sauce and enough broth to cover meat. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer and add remainder of part one. Simmer until meat reaches the proper consistency. Turn off fire and LEAVE COVER ON until 45 min before turn in. Then turn on heat and return to a simmer.

At 30 min prior to turn in, the ingredients in part two, stirring well.

At 15 min prior to turn in the ingredients in part three, stirring well.

 

- By Jon Watson, Food & More blog

26 comments Add your comment

Scribe

December 14th, 2012
7:34 am

Nice article, but all the typos/mistakes are a distraction. (I know some good proofreaders if you need some help.) Pet peeve. Sorry.

Progress

December 14th, 2012
8:22 am

The above recipe wouldn’t do it for me. I need fresh diced onion, red and green bell pepper, garlic, jalapenos, tomatoes, and beans (no corn). No need for MSG, bouillon, or store-bought broth.

jimmy

December 14th, 2012
8:58 am

I’m into toasting, soaking, then pureeing dried chiles like anchos, pasillas, and habanero for my chili lately. Deep and fruit-like flavor.

Theresa

December 14th, 2012
9:04 am

I’m with Jimmy. Starting with dried chilies is the best. I like to toast them first, then soak and puree.

Baltisraul.....

December 14th, 2012
9:10 am

Progress…… agree, not my cup of chili. I have been cooking w/ alot more MSG as of late. It does make a big dfference in fried foods like chicken or catfish. For those ole time Georgians, look up polititian Burt Lance’s chile recipe. I have ben making a version of Burt’s chili for a long time.

Ken

December 14th, 2012
9:25 am

my pet peeve is recipes that list amounts by the container – “one box of xxx, one can of yyy.” What size containers?

Art

December 14th, 2012
9:37 am

Having grown up on chili made with McCormick’s chili seasoning in a packet; it tasted good back then. I’ve become a convert to competition chili. I use a combination of chili powders and dried chilies that I soak and puree. Good chili powder makes all the difference. I get mine from a company in Texas called Pendery’s; they make some amazing blends. I do from time to time put my chili over spaghetti topped with red beans, diced onion, jalapenos, sour cream and cheese.

Paul

December 14th, 2012
10:00 am

My latest version uses a smoked brisket – that really adds some time to the recipe as I smoke it for 7 hours. I agree completly with the people above though – fresh chilis (I usually have 5 or 6 different kinds), fresh onion but cooked into the chili – not dumped on top, NO BEANS, and about a dozen different spices. Bullion cubes and store bought broth have no place is a real chili.

g

December 14th, 2012
12:33 pm

No one yet has mentioned that the only way to prepare real chili is to add regular shots of tequila at 30 minute intervals ( more or less to taste ). Not in the chili but for the cook!

1164mgc

December 14th, 2012
12:48 pm

HA! I’m one of the weirdos who ladle it over spaghetti – but then again, I eat veggie chili – cincinnati style – with corn AND beans!

Baltisraul.....

December 14th, 2012
5:10 pm

1164ngc with you on the Cincinnati chili (skyline chili). Itis hard to believe that this chili is so good with no chili pwd and a square of ‘Bakers’ chocolate. I make it at least 6 times a year. You can also buy Skyline chili @ Publix in the frozen food section, if you are in a hurry. Cincinnati chili takes 24 hrs to make.

Edward

December 15th, 2012
10:41 am

I prefer my chili with beans. I typically will use black beans, sometimes kidney beans if I’m feeling more traditional. I also sautee the meat with onions until meat is browned and onions are translucent, then add a cup of red wine and reduce it by half. Then I add the other ingredients and cook the chili for at least a couple of hours. The cooked beans go in about 15 minutes before serving (don’t want them to be mushy).

Baltisraul.....

December 15th, 2012
12:39 pm

Edward ……if you like beans in your chili, try pork n’ beans some time. It wil change your mind about what beans need to be on you list as possibles.

Baltisraul.....

December 15th, 2012
12:45 pm

I use Showtime or Van Camp pork n’ beans, 36 oz or more w/ juices inclded.

The Real Foodie

December 15th, 2012
2:16 pm

Real chili does not have beans

Baltisraul.....

December 15th, 2012
6:03 pm

The Real Foodie…….real chili does have beans if you like beans in your chili. A real foodie would know that. Don’t be a Maroon!

Competition style chili | CookingPlanet

December 15th, 2012
9:10 pm

[...] Competition style chili [...]

Edward

December 15th, 2012
10:53 pm

Real chili has whatever the cook likes in their chili. I’m not much of a fan of canned beans, as they tend to be overcooked. I will usually cook the beans myself and slightly undercook them before putting them into the chili. I like to prepare the chili at least a day in advance because it tends to develop a richer flavor profile overnight in the fridge.

PapaDoc

December 16th, 2012
9:10 am

As mentioned earlier, Pendery’s is a great source for spices that I was hipped to when I lived among competition chili cooks in Texas. Ft. Worth Lite is my go to.
Thanks for the link to the almanac. Good advice.

Dave

December 17th, 2012
10:13 am

Sounds good. Do you grind the meat (chili grind or regular) or do you use small cubes?

N-GA

December 17th, 2012
11:03 am

I’ve known for years that chili preferences are very personal. I’ve never been into “competition” style chili. I entered one informal contest. Some friends and I threw a big party (200-300 people) and we decided to have a chili cook-off. At first we discussed selecting judges. Then we decided on a better way to determine the winner. We all used very large stock pots of similar size. The winner would be the contestant who’s pot had the least chili remaining at the end of the party. My pot was completely empty. At the other extreme the “competition” style chili was barely touched. The others were somewhere in between. BTW, the winning chili used ground chuck, a variety of beans, red bell peppers, vidalia onions, McCormick chili powder(s), San Marzano tomatoes and a lot of other ingredients. IMO liking chili prepared only one way will cause you to miss out on some great chili!

g

December 17th, 2012
12:39 pm

I prefer beans also. The others are more like Chili sauce suitable for a topping on a dog or burger. But a bowl of chili has beans. I like to dice a good sirloin and also add ground pork and market ground beef.

jetlagjim

December 18th, 2012
6:49 am

Jon you can do better than this. What does “prior to turn in” mean? And is the chuck diced or ground?

Baltisraul.....

December 18th, 2012
7:32 am

jetlagjim………’prior to turn in’ means the deadline time your chili must be presented to the judges or face elimination from the competition. I believe competition chili has diced or cubed meat not ground.

Baltisraul.....

December 18th, 2012
9:57 am

N-GA…….your chili cook-off story speaks volumns. Unless you just love only competition chili or live in Texas, most folks put beans in their chili. I know people in Ga love their beans in chili

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December 21st, 2012
3:30 am

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