How To Host A Chili Cookoff

BY: Martie Duncan, InSinkErator® Subject Matter Expert

You know, it’s funny how we manage to find time for friends and family during the holidays, but we might go the rest of the year without seeing the people we care about the most because we’re all just too busy to make plans.

I’m on a mission to encourage you to host a get-together with friends this year in hopes it will become an annual tradition and something you look forward to all year long.

I am a big fan of potluck parties that incorporate elements of competition. I’ve hosted all of these gatherings at some point, and because everyone pitches in, there is very little stress or burden on the host. You can make it a migrating party; you host this year and someone else hosts the following year.

One of my all-time favorite get-togethers became an annual tradition for my friends: a chili cook-off. Everyone has a chili recipe they are proud of, so getting people to participate is easy. It’s a fun way to meet the neighbors, to raise money for school or charity, to celebrate game-day, or to round up the gang for annual bragging rights. Follow these simple steps to start your own tradition:

• Each guest brings a pot or slow cooker with his or her chili.

• The host provides drinks; condiments like cheese, sour cream, hot sauce, and crackers; ballots for voting; and prizes. Our group had a giant spoon engraved with the names of the champions that we passed from winner to winner each year.

• Before guests arrive, clear the counters in the kitchen to make room for all the chili. Set up serve-yourself bars for the drinks and the condiments. Set out bowls, mugs, ladles, and spoons.

• For the voting, you can either make it a blind vote where you number the entries as guests arrive so nobody knows who made what, or you can simply put names on them.

• Give one prize or offer several. For example, award prizes for most creative, best non-beef chili, best vegetarian, or most unusual chili.

• Party cleanup is easy with your InSinkErator® garbage disposal. No more mess with chili and food waste in the garbage – your InSinkErator® can handle that. (And dispose of it quietly while guests enjoy themselves.)

Here’s a recipe for my Fire Roasted Chipotle Chili – always a crowd-pleaser! And no matter what kind of party you host, I hope you’ll start a new tradition this year with your friends.

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 4 up to 8 hours

2 lbs ground beef
1 large yellow onion, chopped
1 bottle of your favorite beer
2 cans fire-roasted tomatoes (28 oz each), crushed (or whole canned whole tomatoes in the food processor for a few seconds)
2 cans black beans (15 oz each), drained and rinsed
1 small can sliced jalapeño peppers, drained and diced very fine
2 cups fresh tomato salsa (find it at most stores or make your own recipe)
2 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tsp chipotle chili powder (find it in the spice aisle; add a bit more if you like that smoky heat)
1tsp black pepper
1 tbsp kosher salt

Brown the ground beef and onion in a skillet (or use your slow cooker if you have one that browns) until the beef is quite brown and the onions are softened. Drain off the liquid. Return to the heat and pour the beer over the mixture to deglaze the pan. Pour that mixture into your crock-pot. Add the remaining ingredients. Cover and cook on your lowest setting for 4 hours for the flavors to develop.

Serve with condiments: Sour cream, grated cheese, sliced jalapenos, green onion, hot sauce, or any of your favorite chili toppings.

Yield: 18 (6 ounce) servings or almost 1 gallon of chili