Chili cook-off is tasty and for a good cause

Chili with beef, onion, tomato, spices and garnish. BY JACK CLEMONS
March 25, 2013

A few weeks ago, St. Peter’s Church invited me to judge a chili cook-off. The contestants would compete for bragging rights; diners would enjoy a delicious meal and the contributions collected would go to a wonderful cause: Centro Infantil San Pablo. Located in one of the most economically deprived communities in San Miguel de Allende (Guanajuato, Mexico), this nonprofit preschool provides education, nutrition, healthcare and social services to prepare children to enter first grade.

As you may imagine, the evening was extremely successful. In addition to salads and desserts, parish members brought 12 different chili dishes to compete in three categories: beef, vegetarian and other. I had the pleasure of tasting each one and the challenge of picking the winners. Bill Martin took top honors in the beef category with his perfect balance of meat, beans and seasonings. The Wardwells’ veggie chili was smooth and creamy with lots cheese in the rich sauce.

Cooling dairy products like sour cream or yogurt will draw the heat away from your tongue. Milk protein, known as casein, will remove the capsaicin (active ingredient in hot peppers) from the nerve endings in your mouth. Fats found in these and in avocado will help soothe the burn.

Both of the “other” entries had surprising combinations of ingredients. Kathy McCain’s Seafood Chili included scallops, shrimp, clams and crabmeat. Patty Soffronoff’s hearty turkey chili featured chunks of mushroom and sliced olives. Michael Seifert’s Kickin Hot Chili delivered delightful heat from poblano and jalapeño peppers (although he may have left out an alcoholic secret ingredient when he sent me his recipe).

Thank you to the award-winning chili artists for sharing your recipes and to the generous donors for their support of Centro Infantil.

Bill Martin’s Best Beef Chili

2 lbs chuck steak
1 lb hot Italian sausage
2 large onions, diced
1 jalapeño pepper
12 diced garlic cloves
1 T cumin
1 T paprika
1 T chili powder
32-oz can crushed tomatoes
10-oz can Ro*Tel tomatoes & chilies
16-oz can pinto beans
16-oz can Northern beans
16-oz dark red kidney beans
15-oz can whole kernel corn

Cube the beef and remove sausage from casings. Place the meat in a large frying pan and brown, breaking up the sausage. Using a slotted spoon, remove the meat to a slow cooker. Drain off the fat, reserving 2 T in the pan for next step. Dice the onions; seed and finely chop the pepper. Sauté the onions, jalapeño and garlic until translucent, about 8 minutes. Add the cumin, paprika and chili powder for the last 30 seconds. Remove mixture to slow cooker, using a rubber spatula to collect all the spices. Add both cans of tomatoes to the cooker. Stir to thoroughly combine and set to low for 15 hours. Cool to room temperature and refrigerate for two or three days. Six to eight hours before serving, set slow cooker to low. Rinse beans and corn (separately) in a strainer, shaking periodically to ensure water has drained completely; set aside. Attend 10 a.m. service at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church.

About three hours before judging, stir in beans and corn. Set cooker on high until bubbles appear; stir and reduce heat to low.

Delores and Bob’s Veggie Chili

3 24-oz jars Classico Four Cheese spaghetti sauce
2 16-oz cans red kidney beans
2 16-oz cans black beans
1 16-oz can whole kernel corn
1 15-oz can diced tomatoes
3/4 t cumin
1 t chili powder
1/4 t cayenne
1 chopped white onion
1 large red bell pepper
1 large green bell pepper

Pour 2 jars of spaghetti sauce into a 6-quart pot; cover and set over medium-high heat. Drain and rinse beans and corn; stir into pot. Drain excess liquid from tomatoes and stir solids into pot. Add the cumin, chili powder and cayenne pepper and stir. Cover pot and reduce heat to medium. Seed and chop both peppers; chop onion. Combine in a large microwave-safe bowl with remaining jar of spaghetti sauce. Cover with wax paper and lid. Heat on high for 4 minutes; stir and heat 2 minutes or until tender but not soft. Carefully empty contents of hot bowl into chili pot. Stir together, then simmer until ready to eat.

Kathy McCain’s Seafood Chili

2 T vegetable oil
1 chopped red onion
1 chopped white onion
4 pressed garlic cloves
1 roasted chili pepper
2 T chili powder
2 t ancho chili pepper
2 t cumin
2 t oregano
cayenne, to taste
2 C peeled, seeded, chopped tomato
1 t green taco sauce
2 t white wine
salt, to taste
1/2 lb shrimp
1/2 lb bay scallops
1/2 lb steamed clam meat
1 lb crabmeat

Heat oil in a wide, deep skillet. Sauté onions and garlic until translucent. Seed and mince roasted pepper; add to pan with seasonings, stirring well to combine. Add tomatoes and taco sauce; cook over low heat, stirring often until tomatoes disintegrate. When mixture starts to stick, add the wine to loosen any bits from the bottom of the pan. If saving for future use, remove from heat and cool before storage in refrigerator (2 days) or freezer (3 months). Shell and devein the shrimp and cut into halves. With sauce simmering over medium heat, add shrimp and scallops. Simmer gently for about 10 minutes. Stir in clams and crabmeat; cook for an additional 3 minutes.

Soffronoff’s Turkey Chili

2 lbs ground turkey
1 can mushroom stems & pieces
1 can sliced black olives
1 can tomatoes & chilies
1 can chili hot beans
1/2 C brown sugar
1 package McCormick chili seasoning
1 t oregano
1 t cumin
1 t chili powder

Brown turkey in a large saucepan or deep skillet. Add remaining ingredients; adjust seasonings to taste. Simmer 30 to 45 minutes.

Michael Seifert’s Kickin Hot Chili

3 lbs lean ground beef
salt & pepper
1 T olive oil
2 large red peppers
2 large green peppers
3 C chopped celery
3 C chopped onion
4 jalapeño peppers
3 poblano peppers
4-5 T crushed red pepper
5-6 T chili powder
5-6 chopped garlic cloves
3 large cans diced tomato
3 large cans crushed tomato
4 16-oz cans red kidney beans
2 16-oz cans black beans

Brown meat in large Dutch oven over medium heat, salt & pepper lightly; set aside. Seed and chop the red and green peppers. In a large soup pot, heat the oil and sweat the peppers, celery and onion until translucent. Seed and finely chop the jalapeño and poblano peppers; stir into pot along with crushed pepper, chili powder and garlic.

Drain the beans and add to the pot. Stir in tomatoes (do not drain) and cooked meat. Simmer for 30 minutes, stirring often.  Cool and refrigerate for at least 24 hours. Prior to serving, reheat chili; if it is too thick, add a small can of diced tomato.

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