Monday, July 30, 2012

County Fair Chili Competition

On Saturday I competed in the OC Fair Hot! Hot! Hot! Chili, Wings or Salsa competition. There were about 150 entries overall. Many of the entries were salsa but I'd say at least 30-40 of them were chili. As the judges tasted each entry, I awaited the results but was convinced that I had scored close to last place. Many people used prime cuts of meat and craft beer while I had simply used ground beef and Budweiser. I didn't think I stood a chance! After two hours, the judges were finally finished and the results were read aloud, beginning with 10th place. I can't even explain how surprised I was when they announced that my chili had won 3rd place! 

I've already shared my chili recipe here on the blog but I made quite a few alterations for this competition. If you're interested in giving it a try, here's how I made it this time around...

  • 1 1/2 pounds ground beef (I used 80/20)
  • 16 slices of bacon
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can stewed tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 1 sweet onion, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1/2 cup beer (more can be added later to thin the chili out a bit)
  • 1/3 cup A-1 steak sauce
  • 1 (15 ounce) can of kidney beans
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 tablespoons Cholula hot sauce
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 tablespoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 2 tablespoons cumin
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon paprika

-Combine your chopped stewed tomatoes, carrot, celery, onion, tomato paste, beer and A-1 steak sauce in a large saucepan and heat, stirring occasionally, while you prepare the other parts of the chili.
-Combine the flour, red pepper flakes, garlic powder, onion powder, cumin, oregano and paprika in a small bowl.
-Fry the bacon. Do not drain the grease. Set the bacon aside and cook the ground beef in the bacon drippings. Drain the grease. Add the mixture of spices to the beef. Do not add the entire mixture at first. Taste the beef as you go and only add the amount of spices you prefer. 
-Break the bacon into small pieces. Add the bacon and beef to the tomato mixture. Add the Cholula hot sauce and the brown sugar a little bit at a time, tasting as you go. You do not want the chili to be too spicy or too sweet. The only way to find the combination you prefer is to taste as you go. If you happen to add too much brown sugar, a dash of vinegar will balance out the sweetness.
-Let the chili cook for an hour or two and then add the beans, fresh cilantro and fresh parsley. Cook until heated through. Serve with your choice of condiments. Grated cheddar cheese is my favorite!

This chili tastes even better the next day! Add some water or a little beer to thin it out before reheating. Enjoy!


  1. That is so neat! It's just proof that all the fancy ingredients in the world won't win an award unless the entire recipe is done right. :-)


  2. Replies
    1. Thanks, Kelly!
      P.S. I love your Olympics party supply guide!

  3. HOLY CRAP!!!! Third place that's so awesome. I love the photo of you and your winning ribbon. Can't wait to cook the chili for myself.

  4. o goodness me I love chili. I cannot wait for good chili weather either!


  5. Congrats! I have a friend who does chili competitions and I know how stiff the competition can be. And the recipe looks awesome - I will be trying it out when chili weather kicks in.
    (Sorry if this is a double post - I can't quite figure out what's happening but my first attempt looks like it dissapeared)