It is cold outside again this year in ‘sunny’ Florida but not to worry my neighborhood was getting ready to hold its seventh annual Torrey Pines chili cook-off so there was hope that I would be warm if only for one night.
Every year I search and search until I find what I believe is going to be the winning chili. I have prepared a white chili, chili with beans and for two years, including this one, and a chili without beans.
I won the cook-off two years ago with a chili from The Real Chili Cookbook, called Eye-popping Chili with Corn which by the way is not on line. This recipe did not call for beans but included the use of two very distinct chile powders. One was a commercial chili powder, which gives chili a nice smoky flavor, and the second was a hot New Mexico chile powder that gave it heat. YUM!
So I was on the hunt for a new recipe. After searching for a while I decided to go back to the chili cookbook and see what other recipe jumped off the page.
I chose a recipe called ‘Savory Beef Chili’. It sounded wonderful with ingredients like beer, tomato sauce, jalapeno chilies, cinnamon and cocoa.
There were a good variety of chilies for this year’s cook-off. There was a chicken chili, a Texas chili (no beans) and several ground beef chilis some with beans and one without and one chili that looked like it had everything but the kitchen sink in it.
All the chilis were great so as always it was difficult to choose which one to vote for. This year I voted for the chicken chili. It had a great flavor; the chicken was tender and just hot enough without burning.
My chili did not win this year and neither did the chicken chili. Actually one of the neighbors said, “I wouldn’t have voted for your recipe as a chili recipe but I would have voted for it if we were having a stew contest”. (She was right but I will blog about that another time).
The chili that won was a ground beef chili with heat and a secret ingredient.
The winner, Bob Kessler, was so surprised that he won he was embarrassed saying, “I was really surprised I won. It isn’t a chili most people eat”.
“Did I get all red in the face when they announced the winner,” he asked me later.
I said that it was obvious that he was a little taken aback when Marvin tallied the votes and came over to him with trophy in hand.
“This is not a real recipe that I picked up from a book,” Bob said. “It is just something I just thought of off the top of my head. I just kept putting it together and I kept tasting it as I went along,” he continued.
“Bob”, I said, “that is exactly what makes a really good cook”. Here is the winning recipe:
Bob’s Torrey Pines Trophy-Winning Chili:
1 ½ lbs. 90% ground beef, browned
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 medium jalapenos, finely chopped
½ Tbsp. Cayenne pepper
1 Tbsp. Red pepper
1 14-15 oz. Can chili-type diced tomatoes
1 small can tomato paste
1 pkg French’s chili mix-hot
1 can refried beans
Brown ground beef but do not overcook. Drain off excess grease (if any).
In separate skillet, sauté peppers and onion until opaque.
Add beef and peppers and onion together and stir in other ingredients one at a time while heating. Add refried beans last and stir.
Heat thoroughly and let sit on low stirring occasionally for two (2) hours. Taste and adjust to individual taste.
Serve with diced onions and/or shredded cheese.
**Bob’s secret ingredient was refried beans. He used the refried beans as a thickener. Very clever I thought.
I asked him how he felt about winning the contest. Bob said, “I feel pretty good about it because I did finally win”.
Bob’s wife Sandy said, “It’s an honor but I don’t know where we are going to put everyone next year. She was referring to the fact that the winner not only receives the much coveted “Torrey Pines Butt Kicking Chili Cook-off Champions” trophy but the honor of hosting next year’s cook-off.
If anyone out there that has a ‘butt kicking’ chili recipe they would like to share I will look it over and perhaps enter it in next year’s contest.