This week I gloat. I decided to accept a job offer at an employment law firm representing employees. I'll start part time sometime after the new year, and then full time next summer. I was also offered a spot on the Law School's four-member Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition team. This means that I get to go to a regional competition (maybe in Chicago) and hopefully a national competition (in D.C.). It also means that I have to go through intense research crap for the next three weeks to write (with my partner) a 60-page brief which is due before next semester. So much for Christmas vacation. Sigh.
But most importantly, I gloat because I am now the reigning champion of the Cedar Lake Ward Halloween Party Chili Cook-off. My chili was a modified combination of Cabeza's chili recipe and the Dinosaur BBQ recipe, with some of my own variations. It took two days (really a day and a half) to build, and it blew away the competition. There were three categories: best presentation, spiciest, and best overall chili. I won the third.
Not only am I a great culinary, I am also magnanimous. So I blush not to share my winning blueprint with the world. It follows:
1. I started with 3 pounds of steak cut into bite-sized pieces. I sprinkled these generously with cajun seasoning, black pepper, and some garlic powder and salt. I let them sit to soak in the flavor.
2. I browned the meat in oil in a cast-iron skillet and transferred it to a big soup pot.
3. I put one-and-a-half chopped onions and one-and-a-half chopped green bell peppers into the grease left in the skillet, ground on some black pepper, and sprinkled them with salt. When they were cooked, I added them to the pot.
4. I added to the pot these ingredients:
- one-and-one-third cup of beef stock
- one-and-one-third cup of chicken stock
- one-third cup V8
- one small can tomato paste
- three cans of stewed tomatoes, drained
- two cans red beans and one can pinto beans, drained and rinsed well (sorry, Cabeza)
- four tablespoons chili powder
- one tablespoon cajun seasoning
- one tablespoon paprika
- two teaspoons powdered chipotle
- two teaspoons cumin
- two teaspoons oregano
- one stick of cinnamon
- 3 bay leaves
- one-third cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (or, I bet a few squares of dark chocolate would be good)
- 2 teaspoons crushed rosemary
5. The next day, I put the pot on the stove and turned the burner on to medium. As soon as the chili started to bubble, I turned the heat down to low and let it simmer.
6. After about 20-30 minutes of simmering, I fished out the cinnamon and let it continue to simmer for another three hours.
7. Just before it was time to serve, I put a heavy grid-iron on the stove, set the burner on high, and got it smoking hot. I put a few jalapenos on it, and grilled them until they had the nice black grill lines and blistered skin. Then I seeded them, chopped them up, and put them in a serving bowl as a garnish.
The bishopric, the primary president, the relief society president, and the Elders' Quorum president judged the chili. I knew it was a lock when I saw the bishopric go straight to my pot after the judging was done and the chili was open for pot-luck.
The winner for presentation was a regular chili in a regular crock pot, but with three brightly colored peppers floating on top. The spiciest winner was fairly mild, I thought. It was a ground turkey based chili. In my opinion, the salient strengths of my chili are 1) meat quality, and 2) the earthy mole-esque flavor of chocolate and cinnamon. The cinnamon and chocolate can be overdone, though. You don't want it to taste like Big Red or like chocolate. It's a deep, subtle undertone that you're going for.
I also have an idea about how I can win presentation next year, but I'm not putting that one on the web.