Monday, November 24, 2008

A Chili Reception

I'm feeling pretty good about myself right now. Yesterday, I participated in my first ever cooking competition -- a chili cookoff that was a fundraiser for Shelter Care, a local charity. The rules were pretty lax, there were only 21 entrants, but it was fun. And best of all, I placed 10th in the judging and -- get this -- second in the people's choice voting.

It wasn't my first choice of chili styles -- I used beans, to which, like Texans, I usually object, but I was appealing to the lowest common denominator, and I knew the local populace is not quite as discriminating when it comes to red chili purism.

I used four kinds of chilis -- Canned chipotles, and a fresh serrano, Anaheim, and jalapeno. I sweated my aromatics in rendered bacon fat, and deglazed after I seared the chuck roast with bourbon and porter. There were a few other tricks I pulled out, but I'm not going to reveal all my secrets.

The part that leaves me kicking myself is the fact that I lost by one vote, and found out later that everyone who participated had a vote in the popular vote -- myself included. Had I cast a vote and one on The Lad's behalf, I would have won. Oh, well, I didn't really need $150 cash. *whimper*

My one consolation was that I took second place to a fellow pro, who has owned his own restaurants. His advice to me was more heat and a little more salt.

Believe me, I'll remember that.