As many know, The Cured Ham can have an obsessive desire to create and eat classic dishes and specific items, especially dishes that take a long time to cook. Cassolette, Bolognese, salumi, wine making all require patience, technique, and practice.
My travels within the state of California have brought me to another classic dish, Texas Red, also known as Chili. And in those same travels around the Golden State, I was asked, perhaps even challenged, to enter a chili cook off or two.
So as any reasonable person would do, I researched the winning recipes for chili cook-offs around the country for the last 40 years, created a spreadsheet and analyzed the results. Back in the 70's for instance, chuck roast was the primary beef cut used. But in the last 10 years, the primary cut has been...Tri-Tip. I'm currently using ground chicken for my trial period, simply because I was to taste the flavors of the sauce primarily, not the beef.
Did you know that people win extra money in these cook-offs for using a name branded product like Swanson's Chicken Broth, Gebhardt Chili Powder, or Hunt's Tomato Sauce? That will keep people from making chicken broth and tomato sauce at home for sure...$5000 cold-hard-cash in national cook-offs for using a name-brand product. I might have to consider this as part of my retirement plan.
We'll see about the cook-off business, but until then, I'm having fun creating something new. And to be honest, my initial chili trials are very similar to making Bolognese sauce, except with chili.