October 27 is Make a Difference Day. Lucky for us, the day meant cookin’ up four gallons of chili in a downtown Oshkosh park to benefit our warming shelter.
Jeff and I participated in our first-ever chili cook-off this weekend. It was absolutely awesome.
We were “allowed” to begin cooking at exactly 9 a.m. Not one second before. We couldn’t even slice an onion before start time. We knew we’d have exactly three hours to prepare and cook our big pot of chili. We also knew we needed at least four gallons.
I’m not going to lie, we did practice about half the quantity the weekend before because I was so nervous about failing in front of all the chili cook-off-goers.
In my head, when we make chili at home in our normal sized pot we probably make about a gallon. So, I knew I was somewhere around quadrupling the entire recipe.
It went a little something like this: 4 pounds of ground beef, 2 pounds of ground pork, five bottles of Octoberfest beer, a few cups of shredded carrots, 5 onions, 4 giant peppers, a yellow pepper, lots of spicy peppers, lots of black pepper and chili spices, garlic and more tomatoes than you ever want to try to do inventory on the night before. Secret ingredient: A couple of handfuls of golden raisins. (TRUST ME!)
To cook, we used a turkey fryer. I pretty much treated it like it was a giant gas burner and cooked the same way I would in my kitchen. I started with the veggies, and then the meat, beer, tomatoes, spices. And closer to the end of cooking time, I add a small amount of chili and kidney beans.
We served it up like we do at home: Topped with Fritos.
But we did have so much fun. So. Much. Fun. The morning started with lots of coffee drinking and chopping and food processing of the carrots and onions. The afternoon continued with pumpkin beers, stirring and staying warm over the giant pot of chili and serving and stops at our station from our great friends. It was a cool, sunny fall day. There is not one thing I would change.
And, I definitely think we’ll participate in a chili cook-off again some day. Perhaps the state competition is in our future!