Sunday, September 16, 2012

The BBQ Guy Tries ICS Chili Cooking

As the weather here in Michigan makes the gentle turn toward fall with shorter days and longer nights, my thoughts turn toward football, and naturally, toward foods that accompany the changes.

Plymouth, Michigan, near our home in Belleville, hosts the Great Lakes Chili Cookoff. The event is scheduled for October 14th this year. I've toyed with the idea of competing in the event, but knowing very little about competition chili cooking other than visiting a few events in Florida and here in Michigan through the years, I've never progressed much past the "thinking about it" stage.

3 lbs of lean beef

Today I decided to give chili-cookoff-style chili cooking another try. For any seasoned chili competitors who might come across this bbq blog post about competition chili cooking, I want to apologize just in case I've violated any cardinal rules of ICS chili.

I've cooked Jim Weller's Macktown Chili recipe as pubished on the International Chili Society (ICS) website a couple of times. Admitting that I know little about cooking chili sans beans and hamburger, Mr. Weller's world championship winning recipe from the year 2000 looked like a good starting point to develop my own novice version of ICS chili.

I did not cook the recipe exactly because I did not have the exact ingredients on hand, but being a bbq cook who likes to tinker with different ingredients and amounts, I cooked the version below this afternoon.

Brian's Chili Recipe

3 lbs of stew meat from the local big box store
14 oz of beef broth (Watkins mix)
14 oz of chicken broth (Watkins mix)
8 oz can of Hunt's tomato sauce
1 C of water
1/2 tsp of hot sauce (Louisiana Hot Sauce brand)

8 Tbsp chili powder
2 Tbsp chipotle chili powder
3 Tbsp cumin
1 Tbsp garlic granules
1 Tbsp onion granules
1 Tbsp arrow root

I combined the liquids into a sauce pan and heated it for 15 minutes. I cut the beef into small 3/8 inch sized cubes and browned it in a skillet. I combined the liquids and beef into a pot and added 1/2 the spice mixture. I simmered the meat and liquids for 90 minutes, added the remaining spice mix and cooked another 30 minutes on medium-low heat (a slow boil).

I cut the beef into bite sized pieces. I was aiming for 3/8" or "pecan sized".

Beef after browing and draining

Hot sauce
In case you're like me and don't know what arrow root is I'll try to explain. It is used to thicken things similar to flour. Unlike flour, a little arrowroot goes a long way.

I have no way of knowing for sure what I need to add to this recipe in order to meet expectations at a chili cook off, but here are a few things I'm going to try based on samples I've purchased at a few events.

  • Add 1/4 cup of chopped onions.
  • Add 1/4 cup of chopped green peppers
  • Add another 8 oz can of Hunt's tomato sauce
  • Instead of 1 C water, use 1 C of beef broth/chicken broth mixture
  • Use Tabasco sauce instead of Louisiana brand.

Any other suggestions?


Dan said...

I take it you're looking to make a mild chili? Even if you are, I'd encourage you to experiment with the dried peppers form the mexican food section of the supermarket. Reconstitute a coupla anchos, chiles de arbol, guajillo chiles, and taste them to get a feel. Oh, and head to the local Penzey's spices if there's one near you.

Finally, drop 3 or 4 squares of good-quality baker's chocolate in there for depth of background flavor. And use Mexican oregano.

Oh, and if you're competing, obviously swap out the store-bought ingredients for home made.

Good luck, and post about it!

The BBQ Guy said...


Thanks for the suggestions.

I have close to 5 lbs of jalapenos in a container on the kitchen counter that I'll be drying for grinding into a powder. I have never tried it before, but I'm guessing a future chili trial run is coming soon.

Heat in chili is definitely relative. I'm sure what I consider medium hot would be wildly mild to others. I'm warming up to the hotter side of chili. Reading some of the recipes on the ICS website reveal that there are some folks out there that like it H-O-T.

The BBQ Guy said...

I see a trip to the local Penzey's store in my future.

Chris said...

I've made competition style chili a few times and just wasn't crazy about it. I guess that comes from being raised with chili having ground beef and beans (people are shrieking in Texas right now).

I look forward to hearing about your experiences with this. Best of luck!