First of all, congratulations to Melinda Strable of Ankeny, winner of the 2010 Great Iowa Chili Cookoff sponsored by Bolton & Hay restaurant suppliers , Tone’s Spices, Clear Channel Communications (including 100.3 The Bus, 1040 WHO radio, and 1460 KXnO) and Pepsi. The judges said they had a very hard time picking one chili from them all, as they were all different. But Melinda’s chili reigned supreme.
And yes, I… Chef Herman (Stephanie) participated in this chili cook off! When I found out I had been chosen, and that I had less than two days to prepare, I was a little nervous but it turned out to be a very fun experience!
The six finalists started arriving on Thursday, Sept. 9 before 11:00 a.m. Chili cooks participating were Robert Irlbeck, Melinda Strable, Michelle Koeff, Nancy Van Wyk, myself, and Anita Van Gundy.
Totes full of ingredients and cooking utensils were carried in and we were greeted with beautiful stockpots that Bolton & Hay supplied, for us to keep! (And I thank them for that generous gift… I really needed a bigger chili pot!)
The staff at Bolton & Hay, and all the other sponsors’ staff members were so welcoming and professional… that really helped put all the contestants at ease and made it a fun experience. Contestants started socializing, and we soon realized that we were all regular Iowa people who share a passion for cooking. Before we knew it, we were given the okay to begin. A flurry of chopping and preparation followed, and the Bolton & Hay came alive with heavenly smells… meats browning, freshly chopped vegetables, and traditional chili spices provided to each contestant by Tone’s.
Soon we heard someone said, “Lids on!” and it was simmer time. We had down-time of about 3 hours. That time went relatively quickly, with contestants talking with each other, sharing tips, exchanging email addresses and of course, checking on our chili and tweaking the seasonings.
Finally it was judging time. The judges talked and deliberated and after a difficult decision, chose Melinda’s chili as winner! We all went away feeling like winners, though. Bolton & Hay gave us yet another gift… one of their famous jelly roll pans and a 90th anniversary potholder. We had our stockpots, the chili spices gift bag from Tone’s and a $20 gift certificate for beef from the Iowa Beef Council. And still I feel like I’m forgetting something! Maybe just another huge thank-you to all the sponsors who made this such a memorable event for me!
So with all that lead-in, here is my chili recipe, declared by the judges to possess complex flavors, and medium heat and great taste.
2 lb. ground beef
1/2 lb. beef chorizo
2 green peppers, diced
1 medium onion, diced
3 cloves finely minced garlic
1-28 oz. can diced tomatoes
2-28 oz. cans crushed tomatoes
1-2 cups V8 juice
2-15 oz. cans red beans, rinsed
1-15 oz. can pinto beans
3-4 T chili powder
1-2 T. dutch cocoa
1 tsp. Hungarian paprika
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. freshly ground pepper
1 T honey
dash of Sriracha hot chili sauce
drizzle olive oil
Brown ground beef and chorizo, add 1 T. chili powder. Take browned meat out of the pan, set aside. Saute onions, green pepper and celery with drizzle of olive oil (in the same pan). Add the beef, tomatoes, tomato juice, salt, pepper, spices and honey. Cook for minimum two hours on low heat, stirring often. Rinse beans, add during last 15 minutes of cooking.