MGA&D held its first annual chili cook-off on National Chili Day, Thursday, February 25, 2016. The players were set: three “chefs” and eleven judges. The chefs brought a variety of options with daring choices in protein: chicken, beef, veal, and lamb. The eleven judges tried a sample of all three chili’s’ and then tried them again because they were all so good. Once the deliberating of the judges was complete, a winner arose: Curran Leeds’s. Curran is our print and production assistant and in-house foodie, his chili was made with lamb. Following is a little background on the winning chili dish by chef Curran and the recipe for you to try.
Curran’s Chili Recipe
Surprisingly, I have never made chili before. I have eaten plenty of it in my time, but never cooked it. My main goal when preparing my chili dish was to make something I would just be happy to share with my friends, family, and coworkers. I took what I knew from my experiences cooking at home, along with watching plenty of Jamie Oliver, to help influence my winning dish. At the end of the day, I would have been happy with creating a tasty chili that was worthy of my seal of approval; winning the competition was an added bonus.
Cooking Time: 60-90 minutes on the stove, followed by 6-8 hours in the crock pot
- 2 lbs. minced lamb
- 2 white onions, medium size, finely chopped
- 1 green bell pepper, chopped larger than onions
- 1 bunch of cilantro, finely chop the stems, saves leaves for later
- 4 garlic gloves, finely chopped
- 2 Serrano chilies
- 2 Jalapeno chilies
- 3 red chilies, raw or dehydrated
- 3 tins of diced tomatoes
- 3 heaping spoonfuls of tomato paste
- 1 cup red kidney beans
- 1 cup great northern beans
- 2 tablespoons salt
- 2 tablespoons pepper
- 1 tablespoon cumin
- 1 tablespoon fennel seeds
- ½ tablespoon cayenne pepper
- ½ tablespoon paprika
- 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
- 1 tablespoon curry powder
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 2 tablespoons olive oil/sunflower oil
Set your stove burner to medium-high heat.
In a large heavy bottom pot, add your oil, all of your spices (minus the sugar), and stir until incorporated. The heat from the oil will activate the flavor of the spices, releasing it into the oil, 1-3 minutes. Afterward, add your onions, green peppers, and both the Serrano’s and Jalapenos, garlic, and cilantro stems into the pot. Let it cook together, while stirring occasionally for about 10-15 minutes.
When your onions have all but turned clear and your green peppers developed nice dark flavored edges along their sides, add your lamb mince to the pot, bit by bit. Fold and incorporate your veggies into the meat, whilst making sure the meat connects with the bottom of the pan to cook and brown. As you toss and stir, use your spoon (or whatever you have) to break up the mince so you do not have large clumps of meat, unless you like that.
When the meat is evenly brown and has darkened in color, add your tomato paste, and stir to distribute it. Let it cook for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. When you notice the meat is starting to stick to the bottom of the pan when you try and stir it, it is time to add your diced tomatoes. Add at least 1 (tomato) tin of water to the pot. Stir gently and bring it up to the boil for 10 minutes. Incorporate your beans; add another tin of water if necessary. Add the sugar, simmer for 45 minutes, then add to the crock pot, toss in your 3 chilies, set on “Low”, cover, and walk away for about 6 hours.