yesterday at work we had the annual chili cookoff at the office. like a good sport, i offered to bring some in. however, i don’t really have a go-to-chili recipe on hand. lucky me, my family out in california is all about a good chili competition, so i went to the experts for a little help.
my cousin ali was quick to supply a recipe that put her in first place at a local competition in southern los angeles. well, if it’s good enough for them, it’s good enough for me! i pulled up the recipe and was slightly intimidated by the required prep work and number of ingredients, but i figured if i was going to make some chili i may as well go all out for it.
to make things easy on myself, i chopped all the vegetables earlier in the week so that the actual cooking would be a quick process. now, after having made the chili and also eaten more bowls than i care to admit, i think it goes a long way if you chop the vegetables up as tiny as you can. i mean, i’m not sure a big ‘ole hunk of green pepper is really what you want, but if that’s how you like your chili, go for it!
also, whatever you do, do not leave out the italian sausage. in my opinion, the sausage is what makes the chili, so please, please, make sure you have it in there.
finally, i think i could have used a bit more heat. now, the recipe calls for four tablespoons of chili powder which, honestly, terrified me. as such (and not wanting the chili to be inedible because it was too spicy), i used only a single tablespoon of chili powder. however, this recipe makes so much that i think i easily could have done at least two if not three, and i am a spice wimp.
so! the chili cooked overnight as i dreamed happy dreams, and when i awoke in the morning, my nose was warmly greeted with the delectable scent of a cozy, home-cooked meal in the crockpot. after freshening up, i loaded up the car and headed to the office, where i counted down the minutes until noon so that i could eat. it’s hard to not be hungry when there are crockpots full of chili in the office!
once the hour was upon us, our moderators meghan and greg explained that we could try all three and then vote for our favorite chili, for the most unique chili, and then for the hottest chili. the votes would be cast and collected and then the winners would be decided.
my coworkers and i gabbed and relaxed between bites of chili and cheese and bread, but i was secretly (and anxiously) awaiting the results of the competition. now, i wouldn’t say i am much of a competitor, but i wanted to make ali proud!
so, after all bowls were emptied and the tally sheets were in, the results were……that i won the most unique chili! people liked the seasonings and sausage (duh!) and thought the flavor profile was unexpected (in a good way). greg won the award for the hottest chili and then our other coworker tabri won the award for the favorite chili. i think the potatoes in tabri’s chili is what won over everyone, even i admit it!
it was such a pleasure to become part of this company tradition, and even though the chili was a bit of work, i’d say it was worth every minute spent. this chili is hearty without being heavy and is so delicious that i had a hard time putting my spoon down. if you’re looking for a warm meal as the winter weather sweeps in, give this recipe a try. i bet it’d be a hard thing to be disappointed with it.