For the first time in my culinary career, I won a cooking contest!
In celebration of the NFL opening weekend, my work sponsored a chili cook off. Of the 250 or so employed at The Gatehouse Center for News Design in Austin, 10 entered. All of the entry's were tasty and the competition was fierce, but when the judging and voting finished I ended up taking home 1st prize — a $100 gift certificate to H.E.B., a Texas-based grocery chain.
When our office manager told me I had won, I have to admit, it really made my day. I was hoping to place in the top three, winning was a nice surprise.
I went into the contest with a strategy. No beans, very simple and tons of depth.
No bean chili is a Texas thing so I honored that. I wanted to keep the chili simple and focus on technique to bring the most flavor out of each ingredient.
I built the base of the chili in layers, onions and jalepenos first, followed by the garlic and spices, then the tang of steak sauce and the acidity of tomatoes. The beef and liquid were the final additions. I also cooked the liquid out twice and let it rest in the fridge overnight – because chili is always better the next day.
The real secret to any great chili is a long simmer to evaporate the liquid and concentrate the flavor. That, mixed with building a balanced and flavorful base were the key elements to this recipe.
The strategy worked. I'm honored and proud to be this year's Chili cook off champ!
Eat well, cook often ...
THE RECIPE - Chili ATX
Serves a crowd
10 lbs Ground beef
10 lbs Ground beef
4 large Onions, finely diced
5 jalapeños, seeded and diced
10 cloves garlic, finely minced
1/2 C plus 2 Tbs Chili powder
1/4 C plus 1 Tbs Cumin
2 Tbs Mexican oregano
1/4 C A1 steak sauce
1 28 oz can of crushed Tomatoes
1 28 oz can diced Tomatoes
2 Qts Beef Broth
2 Qts water
Tortilla chips for garnish
In a large soup pot (8 qt) over medium heat, brown ground beef in batches, salt and pepper to taste. Remove ground beef and drain all but a quarter cup of the drippings from the pot.
Add onion and jalepeño, sauté until soft 6 to 8 minutes, salt and pepper to taste. Add chili powder, cumin, Mexican oregano and garlic, cook until fragrant, 3 to 4 minutes. Add A1 steak sauce and tomatoes, cook a few minutes more.
Mix in ground beef and add beef broth. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 2 to 3 hours or until liquid is reduced by 3/4. Remove from heat, let cool and store overnight in the refrigerator.
The next day return pot to stove, ad four quarts of water, bring to a boil and reduce heat. Simmer another 2 to 3 hours or until liquid is reduce by half or two thirds. Spoon into bowls and serve with tortilla chips for garnish.