My Prize Winning Chili – Chili Cook Off!

So last week, the apartment management where we live hosted a Chili cook off. I think it was first ever chili cook off and my first ever cooking competition! I was apprehensive initially to take part in this but ultimately decided to go for it. I have never ever participated in a cooking competition but the confidence and support from my son made me go for this time.


I used ground beef for my chili along with two varieties of beans – red and pinto beans. I used canned tomatoes to make the cooking easier. I decided to go slow cooker way as the cook off was on a work weekday and I just didn’t have the time to stand behind a boiling pot to keep stirring and checking up on frequently. I barely managed to get the ingredients into the slow cooker to let it cook for 7 hours at a minimum.


I wasn’t sure how spicy my chili ought to be. I can tolerate large amounts of spiciness, so does my husband. But I am pretty sure other people wouldn’t like it that spicy. But isn’t chili supposed to be spicy? I added about two tablespoons of Kashmiri chilli powder from India, without realizing how spicy it can get. I think this type of chilli powder packs an extra punch compared to cayenne powder or black pepper powder. It turned out to be extra spicy but I was able to counter it using brown sugar.

Anyhoo, the slow cooker did rest of the job as I carried on with my work day. The cook off was at 6:30 PM, truth be told, I was little shy to show off my chili in case it was too spicy and people wouldn’t like it. So my dear husband and my son went as my representatives and entered the chili into the competition. Turns out, people did like it and I won the cook off with a margin of 11 votes!!! And there weren’t that many people at the competition to taste! I won two gift cards $20 each. I decided to let my son spend it as his 8th birthday is fast approaching and he gets to have a treat on me 🙂

Gift card

Here are the instructions to make my prize winning chili :-

1 1/2 pound of ground beef (I used mix of lean meat and chuck meat)
1 tablespoon of oil
1 large red onion diced
5 cloves of garlic minced
1 tablespoon of brown sugar
2 tablespoon of red chili powder
1 teaspoon of dried oregano
1 teaspoon of cumin
1 can of drained red beans
1 can of drained pinto beans
1 large can of diced tomatoes
1/2 cup of beer!
3 cups of chicken stock
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Before cooking the meat, coat it with little bit of salt and brown sugar. Fry the meat on a large saucepan with little bit of oil till the meat has all turned brown. Break down large chunks of meat into smaller pieces. Drain and put the meat into slow cooker. It helps to put the saucepan on medium high heat to caramelize the meat. That adds an extra depth of flavor. Don’t worry about the brown bits stuck to the bottom of the pan. We will be addressing those next

2. Once the meat is cooked and transferred, add in the diced onion and garlic and saute till golden brown. De glaze the pan using the half cup of beer. Let that cook for a while to ensure there is no alcohol left, about 5 or so minutes

3. Add the spices and pepper next and follow it up with beans and tomatoes. Let it cook for a minute or so and then transfer to the slow cooker

4. Add the chicken stock, salt to taste and cover it up. Cook on high for about 4 hours or on low for 6-8 hours

5. Once done, serve with sides of diced onions, shredded cheese, tortilla chips or slices of lime. Enjoy this nice steaming bowl of chili on a cold weather



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