Best Second Place Chili
By Ian Brizdle | Nov. 7, 2022
One of my favorite social events of the year, besides Friendsgiving and the fantasy football draft party, is the annual chili cookoff with my friends. For the past few years it’s been on hold due to COVID, but finally we can resume our friendly competition and eat lots of good food. This year, I have a new strategy based on a Local Style Chili recipe from The Electric Kitchen archives on Hawaiian Electric’s website. I hope it will win the best second place chili award!
Why not first place chili you may ask? For starters, many of my friends can cook. More importantly, one of them has the advantage of hosting the yearly chili cookoff. As host, he has the decided advantage of pandering for votes from the guests and since it is not a blind taste test, everyone knows which is his chili. His wife also tallies up the votes and decides the winner which, not surprisingly, is always him. It brings him so much joy to win that we all let this play out each year without complaint and instead focus on the coveted second place prize.
For me, chili making is more of an art and less a science. No two chili batches are the same and I usually use the opportunity to repurpose leftovers and empty out the fridge. Some of my best chili batches have started with leftover burger patties. My chili style is always no beans (since my wife hates beans) and usually on the spicier side. I find that in chili cookoffs it helps to have an ingredient or two that stands out, although sometimes that can work against you. One year, an entry contained McRib meat (no offense, I love the McRib), which did not go over well with other voters.
My strategy this time around is to be a little more precise. I’ll keep track of the ingredients going in the pot so I can publish the recipe and see how it ranks. I know I want to use Portuguese sausage because I like the dark red oil and spicy flavor it adds. I also want to use the smoked BBQ beef brisket (precooked from Sam’s club, without the BBQ sauce) for a smoky, meaty flavor and chewy texture. Living next to H-Mart provides me with some really nice ingredients and I want to incorporate their homemade ground pork in place of bacon, which tends to go soggy in chili. I also want to use some red jalapeno peppers for spicy flavor and color.
I also plan to follow the recipe directions and make the chili a day before the cookoff, let it cool in the fridge and then reheat in a crock pot the next day for serving. I find that many dishes — like pizza, lasagna, chili and stews — taste even better reheated and served the next day.
We’ll see how this turns out; hopefully it’ll be the best second place chili winner! If you want to find more delicious recipes for your own cooking adventures, you can find thousands of local favorites at The Electric Kitchen.
UPDATE — My chili ranked 2nd place (of course) in the annual 2022 Chili Cookoff!
Ian’s 2022 Best Second Place Chili recipe:
Basically, I started with the Local Style Chili recipe and made the following modifications: No beans. Replace bacon with ground pork added to ground beef. Substitute bell pepper and red pepper flakes with red jalapeno. Add cubed BBQ beef brisket.
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 1 red bell pepper, chopped
- 8 cloves garlic, minced
- 8 chopped red jalapeno peppers, 6 oz.
- 1/4 cup chili powder
- 1 tablespoon cumin
- 2 teaspoons coriander
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1 pound ground pork
- 1 pound cubed BBQ beef brisket (smoked)
- 1 pound Portuguese sausage, sliced and quartered
- 2 (10 oz) can diced tomatoes
- 1 (15 oz) cans tomato sauce
- 1/4 cup water
- In a large pot on medium heat, cook sliced Portuguese sausage to release the oil.
- Add onions and garlic, and sauté in sausage oil until soft and translucent.
- Add ground beef and ground pork. Cook until browned.
- Add red jalapeno peppers, chili powder, cumin, coriander, red pepper flakes, oregano and cayenne pepper.
- Add BBQ beef brisket, diced tomatoes and tomato sauce.
- Add water, if necessary, to cover ingredients.
- Cover and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for one hour.
- Remove pot cover and simmer for another hour, stirring occasionally, until chili has thickened.
- Pro tip: Best reheated and served the next day.
- Serves a lot.
Ian Brizdle is a manager of web and digital communications at Hawaiian Electric Company.