Monday, September 18, 2006

Chili Weather

Fall is upon us. Time to think of the Chili Cookoff.

Julie and I were talking the other day, while we were on a driving excursion, and the topic turned to chili.

We've had a lot of luck with our local chili cookoff. I think we have each won once or twice in the last few years, and I've done it twice with non-traditional chilis. Two of my memorable chilis were "Road Kill Chili" and "Beachcomber Chili". Both were green chilis, one with fish and scallops, the other with 'not beef' in it (a variety of meats, all store bought).

This year we started to kick around different chili themes and names. The two working themes that we settled on were "Chili Alfredo" and "Pizza Chili", with Julie glomming onto the former, and I the later. Pizza chili would be a red chili, without beans, but it would have a pizza spin to it, with the selection of chile peppers and meats, and would be served with mozarella cheese (maybe in little cubes instead of shredded.) Chili Alfredo would be a chili with a cream base.

Although the cookoff isn't until October, we need some time to try out and perfect the recipes. We decided to start our experiments this last weekend, to give us time to mess around with the recipes.

Inventing a new chili recipe is fairly straitforward. I usually look at a handful of chili recipes to start, to get an idea of proportions and refresh my memory on the various cooking techniques. Its more to get me thinking of the components that go into a good chili, so non of my experiments will go totally flat.

Sunday I made the pizza chili. I used sweet italian sausage and diced pepperoni for the meats, crushed fresh and canned roma tomatos for the red sauce, and used roasted cherry peppers for the chiles. More herbs, spices, and garlic were added, and some sauteed onions. We served it with shredde mozarella and a little orechette pasta, which are like little flat discs of pasta with a raised edge. It was really tasty, and Stephanie liked it a lot. You could tell that it was chili, but it also tasted like a really good pizza.

We followed the pizza chili with vanilla bean ice cream, with a home made hot fudge sauce.

Today, Julie made the chili alfredo. It used three types of green chiles, chicken broth, diced tomatos, spices, little white beans, something cleverly run through a meat grinder, and heavy cream. It tasted absolutely wonderful, looked beautiful with various red, pale green, and other colorful bits in a blush sauce, and had the interesting property of being hot when you ate it, but it had a short tail for the afterburn, since the cream made it self-quenching.

We followed the chili alfredo with freshly baked pecan bars.

Each evening, after approving of the finished dish, Julie and I would write down everything that we could remember about how we made our chilis, including all of the ingredients and proportions.

I'll post recipes after the cookoff.


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