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Saturday, November 5, 2016

Chili Cook-Off - For All of the Pride and Your Place on the Plaque



     By now I am sure you know how much we enjoy getting our friends and family together.  What we enjoy even more is a good competition.  We happen to hang with a competitive bunch, so it makes for lots of fun witty banter (aka smack talk!) Ever since The Big Poultry Grill-Off of 2016 we just knew we had to have a chili cook-off.  We sent out the evite all the way back on Labor Day so we would be on everyone's calendar and get them thinking.  Good thing we did, because this fall filled up quick and we would have had a hard time getting it in if we didn't commit early! Within a couple of days, people were thinking chili.  Everyone was tossing around ideas and touting their chilies as the best.


The folks with babies all set up shop on blankets by the train

    After almost 2 months of build-up, the big day drew near.  Matt and I had a basic judging system in mind and he went to work implementing it.  We had containers ready for the 10 chilies we thought we would be getting, plus a few spares waiting in the wings just in case.  Matt designed them so that they could accept a poker chip easily enough, but it would be hard to see the number of chips inside.  We wanted people voting on taste, not on current results.   He labeled them each with a letter and got busy labeling 240 little cups for tasting as well.  Of course I was busy baking, my favorite kind of party prep.

The judges beginning to assemble

 
    Even with all of the planning, the big day kind of snuck up on me.  I woke up and got busy doing regular party prep stuff and then it clicked... I needed to make a pot of chili!!  I love to start my chili early in the morning and let it simmer all day to reduce and really meld.  It was a fall Sunday tradition to have everyone over for chili and football when life was a little slower.  We used to hardly miss a week, now we can barely get one in... so, maybe I'm out of practice!  With this mild weather, we are still getting tomatoes and jalapenos so I had fresh produce picked just that morning.

You know what they always say, it's not a chili cook-off without a ride in the train ;-)


     It was fun to watch the slow cookers roll in.  Good thing we have a long buffet to hold all that yumminess!  Matt had fun assigning each slow cooker a number.  The numbers corresponded to a letter in a super secret code that only Matt and his super duper decoder sheet knew.  Then the party commenced.  When it was tasting time, Matt gave everyone a spoon and 3 voting chips.  Then he went to work serving up the first chili into 24 little cups marked "A."  Luckily we had beautiful weather because he didn't allow anyone in the house while he was serving to keep the tasting blind.  Then he came out and passed out the chili for everyone to taste.  We had notepads available if people wanted to make notes as they went.  We didn't want anyone forgetting what the first chili tasted like by the time they got to the 10th.



    I always enjoy listening to people as they are tasting.  Being a judge at a cooking competition makes everyone a food snob. ;-)  Luckily all of the entries were really tasty and yet each one really was unique.  We had chili with a bit of a BBQ bend, chili with some cinnamon, sweet chili, savory chili, thick chili, soupy chili.  If I am correct, the meats in the chili included a bit of everything too.  There was one with rib meat, brisket and pulled pork.  There were chilies with chicken, venison and ground beef as well.  There was something for every chili lover!  I was a bit surprised we didn't have any white chili entries, though Matt was quite happy about that. He doesn't like white chili.  He does eat white chili, I just call it soup and he doesn't know the difference. (Shhhhhh! Don't tell him!)




    So now for the important part.... who won?



    Secretly a few of us had a couple of goals.  First, of course, was to get our own name on the Winner's Board.  Secondly, if we couldn't win we needed to make sure my brother K.C. didn't win again.  We didn't want him sweeping the board.

Jax making Uncle K.C. and Uncle Collin dirt cake


    Matt tallied up the votes and announced the top three chilies.  In third place was our friend, Neuman.  He made "The Neuman Family Recipe" which is a sweeter chili.  In second place was our friend, Sam.  He made a chili that had a great sweet start but finished with some heat.  His was also the one that had a bit of cinnamon or something in it making it stand out.  In first place.......



Wait for it...



The chili fixin's waiting for people to make their bowls

    My brother, K.C.  No matter our intentions, we couldn't help but to vote for him.  His chili was awesome!  He had bits of meat that he had smoked from ribs, brisket and pulled pork.  It had a BBQ slant and made a really great chili.  He definitely ran away with the votes.  After the voting, we had everyone head in and get a bowl of chili with all of the different fixin's.  Of course his chili disappeared quickly.  Gosh darn it! (Really, it was very good.  He is pretty darn good at this stuff.) So we will be adding his name to the board AGAIN.


  Hopefully some day he will share the glory with somebody else!

The other field of play.  Plenty of washers and bags to keep the competitive spirit alive!

19 comments:

  1. You two did an excellent job of planning a great chili cook off. We really enjoyed it. How did we let the guys get the first three spots. Game on boys. The girls are going to step up our game for the next cook off.

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    1. We need to up our game for the next round!! We had a blast doing it!

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  2. How much fun! We have a chili cook off at work. The first time I entered I won second place and decided that was beginner's luck. I stopped after that. I hate to lose! He needs to share his recipe with us.

    Wishes for tasty dishes,
    Linda

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    1. Ha! I don't blame you, go out at the top of your career. We'll see if he will spill the beans!

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  3. Oh my gosh this looks soooo fun!!! K.C. for the win...man. you and your family are all culinary geniuses; you guys should all go on the Today Show..so cool!!

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    1. We have the best time... food and "friendly" competition are two of our favorite things, so it is fun when they come together! We enjoy scheming up menus and events and we have really been enjoying these cook-offs so far.

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  4. Sounds like a great day!
    Maybe he'll let you post his recipe!?!?😀
    Thanks
    Michelle

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    1. I will certainly ask him if he'll spill the beans ;-)

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  5. Hi Carlee, now I understand the photo I saw with all the slow cookers. Your chili cook off sounds like it was fun and you have to give praise where praise is due, even if it is to your brother... Again!

    xx

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    1. Yes, they were all filled with loads of chili! We had so much fun seeing everyone, tasting all of the chilies and enjoying the nice day.

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  6. I know that there is no way the average person could make KC's chili but I'm wondering if Neuman or Sam will share theirs.

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  7. Wow...how much fun does this look! :)

    Thanks for joining Cooking and Crafting with J & J!

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  8. Love how everyone got into the competition! Looks like a fantastic time all around ;) Thanks for sharing with us at Funtastic Friday!

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    1. Thank you! We are a competitive bunch and we have a lot of fun =)

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  9. So much fun! I would have loved to have tasted a bite of that winning chili, it sounds so good!
    And... I am going to try renaming the white chili in my house. Should make my husband a lot more accepting too. Can't believe I never thought of that!

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    1. Ha! You just have to think outside the box a little with these husbands of ours. Matt is so staunchly against it he had already proclaimed that he wouldn't even try a white chili if one showed up because he knew he wouldn't vote for it. I didn't have the heart to tell him he has eaten white chili before... just under another name! Surprisingly none showed up so it didn't matter!

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  10. What a really fun day. I love chili cook-offs, and although Matt would hate to hear it, I did win first place with my white bean chicken chili. Or should I call it white bean chicken soup with chilies in it! One day I want to have a soup evening, where everyone brings a crock pot of soup to share. And all the toppings, tortilla chips, cornbread anything that goes with. I would love to see what type of soup everyone brings and the recipes that their families like to eat. I'm sure chili will be a top contender. I sure wish I lived closer to you. How fun would that be!

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    1. I think a soup evening would be a lot of fun too. We've done small ones with my extended family before... but of course now I think we need to make it a competition! My little brother has to give up at least one place on the plaque.... to meeeee! We would have so much fun if you were closer!

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