Championship Chili !

by Chef Steve Buschbacher

It is the beginning of December and all of the beauty that is autumn has given way to winter. That season where the trees are bare, the skies are grey, one inch of snow can shut down the city of Philadelphia,and my thoughts turn to survival. Namely chili and beer.

I have a chili recipe that is deceptively simple and yet, year after year, won the chili cook-off at my employer. That is, until some of my compatriots got tired of losing to me and lobbied hard to include offerings made by their spouses. I’m not going to name names. But if I was, I’d mention Jim and Latrell.

Every year, I got used to having the $25 Starbucks card, given to the winner, to use for morning coffee for the first week of December. I used to budget around it. And then came Jim’s wife and Latrell’s husband. Jim’s wife’s chili was just OK and I was sure that mine was better. But then I saw Latrell’s husband’s offering. He made venison chili. It WAS good. It WAS better than mine. And he made it with venison Just as certain as my victories had been in years past,so was my defeat that year. Venison, alone, almost pushed him past me.

I performed a scientific survey of fellow employees to see if they thought it was right for an employee chili cook off to include spouses or significant others. By “scientific”, I mean that I asked three people who hated dear meat. The results of that survey are inconsequential. That was the last year of the chili cook off.

Here is my recipe. Feel free to enter it in a cook off at YOUR employer …unless Latrell’s husband works with you. You’re sunk in that case.

Ingredients –

1 pound ground turkey … you can also use lean ground beef … or shredded venison (grrrrr)

1 can Bush’s Hot chili beans

1 can Rotel diced tomatoes with habaneros

1 package of McCormick’s Hot chili seasoning

Preparation –

Brown the ground turkey. If you’re using ground beef, you should drain off most of the fat. If you’re using shredded venison … whatever, I hate you.

Add the beans (un-drained) and the tomatoes and mix well.

Add the chili seasoning and stir.

Turn down the heat and let it simmer for at least an hour stirring often

If you want more heat, cover the surface of the chili with chili powder and then ground cayenne and stir to mix it well.

Simmer an additional half hour. Continue to stir it often.

Serve with corn bread, Italian bread, or French bread. Or, if you’re really hungry, cold roast beef on rye with red onion and spicy brown mustard.

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