Hi, this is Lisa's husband Eddie, guest blogging my award winning chili based on popular demand (mostly from my wife).
I tried a number of different approaches in the following years, including a purist Texas style chili that shunned beans and ground beef in favor of unadorned hunks of stew meat simmered in what I thought was an excellent balance of chiles and spices. “Delicious”, someone told me after I placed third, “but it’s not really chili”.
The award winning chili had beans in it. And I had to admit it was much better than mine, in part because it had three different kinds of meat in it, including sausage.
Determined to come up with an award winning chili, I narrowed my sights to multiple-meat chilis and came upon Guy Fieri’s Dragon Breath chili, which is the recipe I’m adapting here.
This chili contains chuck meat, Italian pork sausage and ground beef plus three different kinds of peppers (poblano, Anaheim and jalapeño) which results in excellent flavor, texture and heat. And my version has a little something extra! Fieri‘s recipe calls for either bacon grease or canola oil to sauté the aromatics. Easy choice I thought, but it’s not as if you can buy bacon grease so I got a 12-oz package of bacon, cut it into small pieces and rendered the fat myself. It produced just about the right amount of fat, but also an interesting byproduct. As I looked at those cooked bits of bacon I thought “who am I kidding? Those are going into my chili!”
Also Lisa advised that I use three different kinds of chili powder to add a depth of flavor to match up against the three (now four actually) kinds of meat and three types of chili pepper. Finally, my taste in beer steered me toward an IPA rather than the lager suggested by the original recipe.
Aside from those differences and the fact that I brown the meat separately instead of in with the sautéed vegetables, the credit goes to Fieri for an amazing recipe, especially his use of spices which generates a level of heat that is just on the edge, which in my view is where a chili should be.
My chili won two cook-offs outright including one against Dean’s award winning white chicken chili.
It also took best meat chili in a third competition (lost to a vegetarian in the all-around that year) and came in a very close second to Dean’s white chicken chili in another cook-off that was heartbreaking for me.
Against a field of roughly 20 chilis and with hundreds of votes tallied, Dean and I were counted up exactly even to tie for the win and the medal was awarded jointly to us. In what has since become known as Chili-gate, I later that day discovered that unlike the previous competition, the cooks were not allowed to vote. I conceded that I had in fact voted and presented sole ownership of the blue ribbon to Dean. I kidded him that my vote was for his chili (it wasn’t).
HERE'S HOW TO MAKE EDDIE'S AWARD WINNING CHILI:
This chili takes time to prepare and involves numerous ingredients, but it's totally worth it and the basics are straightforward.
Start by roasting, peeling and chopping the chiles. Keep a close eye on them while they are roasting - things can escalate quickly.
In the meantime, cut up and fry down the bacon to provide the grease to use for sautéing (and the bacon itself!). You then sauté the chiles and vegetables in the bacon fat, remove them and brown the meat in the same pot.
Then add the spices, the tomato sauce and paste, chicken broth and beer and simmer for two hours.
Lisa asked me to advise you that if you want to be a little healthier you can skim the fat off the surface periodically which, in my opinion, for this dish is sort of like saying that if you want to be a little safer when you go cliff diving, wear knee pads. But anyway consider it mentioned.
I also want to say that it is great to have a sous chef alongside when you prepare this chili, preferably Lisa.
One final note: for my taste the heat level is perfect, but if you want to tone it down, the best way is by reducing the amount of cayenne pepper.
Here's my award winning chili recipe. If you make this please come back to leave a comment and let me know what you think.