Competition chili isn’t your family’s chili recipe.
Competition chili contains no beans or “fillers” such as pasta, etc. There are a few main characteristics. Taken from the International Chili Society:
“TASTE, above all else is the most important factor. The taste should consist of the combination of the meat, peppers, spices, etc, with no particular ingredient being dominant, but rather a blend of the flavors.
CONSISTENCY Chili must have a good ratio between sauce and meat. It should not be dry, watery, grainy, lumpy, or greasy.
AROMA Chili should smell good. This also indicates what is in store when you taste it.
COLOR Chili should look appetizing. Reddish brown is generally accepted as good. Chili is not yellow or green.
BITE Bite or after taste is the heat created by the various type of chili peppers and chili spices.”
This type of chili is not a kind I would make everyday for the family. Due to the time and expense that goes into competition chili, I save it for events, special occasions, and cook-offs.
The cooks that participate in these chili cook-offs spend years perfecting their spices, recipe, and techniques. Yes there are techniques to cooking a “perfect” batch of chili, from the timing of the addition of spices, to the proper temperature to get the meat just right.
Most all cooks are very secretive…almost like a solitary fraternity. They tell no one of their tricks or recipes, except for maybe one other cook they really trust. One such cook gave me some advice and counseling under sworn secrecy. I will never break that trust, and will never divulge what I came up with myself, nor what he told me. As he explained, he had spent over 5 years, coming up with his winning recipe, going through dozens upon dozens of batches of chili. All that chili and competitions adds up in the cost column, and I can understand the secrecy among cooks.
So the next time you see one of the Barbecue or such cook-off shows on the Food Network, that’s like what chili cooks are like…only more solitary as usually in competitions there is no “team”, just an individual cook.