The first time I ever gave my recipe away, I swear to you, I felt like I was giving away my first born child or something! And since I was never blessed with children, uhm, yeah, THIS WAS my “baby” I was giving away! I had worked on this recipe for 10+ years by that time.
It finally graduated and was ready for competition when I entered it for the very first time in my first chili cook-off back in Indiana. It was held in the middle of January, in a field, in a foot of icy snow, and the temps were 20+ below zero windchill. (Gotta love that Lake Michigan – “lake effect”- wish-you-were-dead-chill-factor.)
We arrived with what we thought was sufficient gear and all of our supplies. The skimpy canopy (with no sides) that took an hour to erect proved to provide nothing but an arctic-blast wind tunnel that suddenly took flight and became a four-pronged projectile flying half a football field’s length over into the nearby field where we swore we could hear the cows laughing.
Then several veteran, more-prepared, expert chili cook-off participants took pity on us and helped us stake it down better AND wrapped 3 of the sides for us in plastic to stop the wind. Yep. That’s what it’s all about folks. Teamwork and camaraderie!
Without their help, I never would’ve been able to even cook my chili, nor ever feel my toes or nose again.
But I had a BLAST! Our friends arrived shortly later to join us in the tapping of the keg…at 8am….free beer for all of the chili cooks! Which I was GRATEFUL for by that time, as I did not have to shoot myself in the head for getting myself into this in the first place and had been up since 3am anyways.
What the heck. Hand me a beer.
We all huddled around the warmth of that gloriously warm, deluxe, 2-burner, “antique” kerosine cooktop stove and let my chili simmer until we were drunk as monkeys.
We were having so much fun I totally forgot about not being able to feel my toes.
By the time the girls came around to collect the chili samples some 5 hours later, I swear I might’ve tried to order a shot of tequila and a pizza. I dunno, I was frozen delirious by then.
It was a fun day for all, though. An AMAZING day, actually!! One I will remember ’til the day I die kind of day!!
Everyone just shook hands, met, talked, shared stories, laughed and the chili cook-off bug bit me hard! I was hooked! “Hook, line ‘n sinker” as my dad used to say! This was fun beyond anything I’d ever seen or participated in!
Well, when we all had to bring our pots into the hall, needless to say, I was a WRECK of nerves! It had been a LONG, BRUTALLY cold day, and I was dang tired!
They started going down the list, naming all of the teams, and after awhile, I grew more and more nervous with each honor being given, because I still hadn’t heard my name called yet!
It was down to the last two pots! First place and last place! And when they announced, in front of a crowd of about 400 people, that I had won…you guessed it…I started to cry!
Yeppers, I sure did! I was smilin’ ‘n cryin’ just like all the Miss America pageants I watched as a little girl!
I didn’t win Miss America, nooooo, this was even better!!! 😀
And there weren’t any roses, tiaras, ball gowns or fancy-schmany prizes, either. We each got a small check that just barely covered the groceries and entry fee, and all of the rest of the proceeds collected from the public went to charity. There’s nothing better than that! 😉
I proceeded to win many more since then, and my chili has morphed into one of the best pots you’ve ever tasted! It has a very unique flavor and has caught the eyes and hearts of many judges across the country!
I have lost count of how many people continue to let me know that, “Hey, I tried your chili in our cook-off and we took first place!” Some making it “as is”, while others adjust slightly and add their own special touches. It always makes me smile to hear from them!
So if you’re looking for that special pot to make for your family, or maybe even for a competition, you just might want to give mine a try! 😉
Hope you all enjoy and have fun!! Life is so very short! Enjoy each and every moment! 🙂
6-TIME AWARD WINNING CHILI
In large deep frying pan sauté :
2 lbs. hamburger
1 lb. mild Italian ground sausage
1/2 of a large red bell pepper, diced (*ribs and seeds removed from all peppers)
1/2 large green bell pepper, diced
1 medium onion, diced
6-8 fresh jalapeño peppers, finely chopped
1/2 tsp. each:
coarse ground black pepper
good chili powder
good garlic powder
When done, drain grease well, dump into large heavy-bottomed pot, and add:
1/3 cup + 1 tsp. good chili powder
1 3/4 cups ketchup, I use Hunt’s
3 Tbl. lemon juice concentrate
1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/2 tsp. molasses
1 Tbl. worcestershire sauce
2 tsp. regular white vinegar
1 rounded tsp. regular table mustard
2 Tbl. cumin
1/2 tsp. coarse ground black pepper
1/4 tsp. smoked salt
1/2 tsp. sriracha
1/8 tsp. more each (to taste):
salt (to taste)
1 (28 oz.) can whole tomatoes, crushed with your hands to break up, drained, I use Hunt’s
3 cups V-8 Spicy Hot tomato juice
1 can dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed, ( *a 15 – 15.5 oz can depending on brand)
1/2 lb. quality lean, thick cut, crisp cooked bacon, snipped into small pieces
*1 (16 oz.) container fresh sliced cremini mushrooms, *add during last 30 minutes
Rest of Directions:
Stir well once ingredients are added. Simmer on low for at least 2 hours, lightly covered. Stir as needed to prevent sticking. Chili will seem too thick, but don’t worry, it will cook down. *Chili will be super thick when chilled, though. Do not add liquid! Chili will thin back out when reheated.
*If a much thinner chili is preferred, you can add 1 can Campbell’s beef consommé, or one can beer, slowly adding until desired consistency is reached. But we like it thick and rich as is. 😉