Chili Cook Off Winning Recipe

Participating in a Company Chili Cook Off

I love all shapes and forms of cooking contests at work, so naturally a chili cook off is right up my alley.

Chili makes for a great office cooking contest because there’s so my variety and individuality when it comes to chili. There’s so much room to play with different spices, meats, vegetables, etc. Recipes tend to passed down as a family tradition or fine-tuned by repeated experimentation over the years and served with pride. It’s also not that challenging to cook – you can still get passable results by throwing everything, including a pre-made chili seasoning packet, into a crockpot.

But What is Chili, Really?

It’s hard to say what “chili” is definitively. Some may argue that it needs to have beans. Some may argue that it should have meat, or shouldn’t. It’s extremely regional and even personal at times.

If I were to try to pin it down, I would say the defining ingredient would be powdered chilis, but then again, I’ve seen a lot of white-bean-and-kale “chilis” that don’t have any chili peppers at all.

My Winning Chili Recipe

My definition of chili does include chili powder and lots of hearty meat, but no beans. I’ve won a few company chili contests with this recipe, so I must be doing something right!

I use bison to make it more exotic, but feel free to use ground beef if you can’t find it. I’ve also scoured winning recipes World Champion Chili Cook Off (yes, they post all the winning recipes going way back!) and discovered fun flavor enhancers like beer, coffee, and chocolate. I also pay homage to my Asian American heritage by including soy sauce and fish sauce (like I do in pretty much everything) and then…the toppings…

My Ultimate Chili Toppings

Hope you enjoy this delicious chili recipe with all the fixings!

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Adjust Servings
3 bell peppers
1 jalapeno
8ounces bacon
1pound ground bison (or beef)
2tablespoons tomato paste
1 (14.5oz)can diced tomatoes
1 (4.5oz)can diced green chilis
1cup beer
3tablespoons soy sauce
2teaspoon fish sauce
1tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1ounce dark or semisweet chocolate
2teaspoons coffee, finely ground
½teaspoon brown sugar
Chili Spice Mix
1 bay leaf
2tablespoons chili powder
2teaspoons cumin
2teaspoons oregano
½teaspoon coriander
½teaspoon cayenne
½teaspoon cinnamon
½teaspoon allspice



Chop 3 bell peppers and 1 jalapeno

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Fry bacon in a dutch oven or heavy bottomed skillet

Cut bacon (I use scissors) into a dutch oven and fry to let fat render on medium-high heat.
When bacon is crispy, remove from dutch oven and drain on a paper towel.
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Brown 1 pound ground bison in chunks

Once browned (it doesn't have to be cooked thoroughly), remove from dutch oven.
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Cook bell peppers and jalapenos in dutch oven until softened

Cook on medium heat for about 5 minutes.
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Add 2 tb tomato paste and cook for 2 minutes on medium heat

Be careful not to let it burn!
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Add spice mix

Mix spices to add: 1 bay leaf, 2 tb chili powder, 2 tsp cumin, 2 tsp oregano, ½ tsp coriander, ½ tsp cayenne, ½ tsp cinnamon, and ½ tsp allspice.
Spice mix should become fragrant after 1 minute.
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Add 1 can diced tomatoes and 1 can green chilies, then cook for 5 minutes

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Add 1 cup beer, 3 tb soy sauce, 2 tsp fish sauce, 1 tb apple cider vinegar, and meat (both bacon and bison)

I used the People's Pilsner - use whatever you like or what you have on hand!
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Add 1 oz dark chocolate and 2 tsp ground coffee

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Simmer on low heat for 1 hour for maximum flavor-melding

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Garnish and serve!

Get creative! Chili toppings are so fun. I used shredded cheese, sour cream, avocado, cilantro, jalapenos, red radish, chives, and smoked salt. Yum!
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