Saturday, May 30, 2009

Palo Alto Chili Cook-off Recipe Test Kitchen

Tonight's the night we decided to get serious about testing chili recipes for the 28th Annual Palo Alto Chili Cook-off. We entered the vegetarian category under the team name "Yes VeGan!"

Alyce, our head chef, brought ingredients for a corn based chili. We compared that to the Whole Foods Market Chunky Garden Vegetable Chili recipe, with three Tierra Vegetables smoked TAM jalapeno chilis added. The goal for tonight was to narrow down the myriad of choices to a base recipe we can perfect between now and July 4th.

Here's Mike's and Alyce's recipe, as conveyed by Dr. Mike himself:
2 large onions chopped, browned
4 cobs of corn, grilled, then cut off the cob
1 large sweet potato, cubed
2 12oz cans black beans
2 12oz cans red beans
2 can diced tomatoes (fire roasted if you got 'em)
2 can crushed tomatoes
2 bunches of green onions (or spring, depending)
garlic (amount - well, it's garlic, so ...)
1/2 bunch cilantro
1 tbsp + 1 tsp Penzey's Chili Con Carne Seasoning, bloomed with the onions
1 tbsp + 1 tsp Penzey's Chili Powder (medium hot), bloomed with the onions
1 tbsp ground coriander, bloomed with onions
1 tbsp ground cumin, bloomed with onions
1 tbsp Mexican oregano
2 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce (from a can)
2 tbsp canola oil

Ogg take pot. Ogg put pot on fire. Ogg put stuff in pot. Ogg heat. Ogg stir. Ogg add garlic to taste. Ogg stir occasionally, until sun move across 1/12th of the sky.

(Or, as Prince Charles would say, "Og, he sweat, he make ye sauce")

We made madelines from the vegan cornbread recipe from the Post Punk Kitchen, though won't go this far on competition day. The consensus was that tortilla chips were a better (we are salt fans), easier option.

As you can see in the videos included, there were preferences all around. Net-net, there are good qualities to be leveraged from each chili. The combination of the two was excellent. Over the next week we'll try and concoct one recipe from the two we started with, emphasizing the strong points of each. There's also the issue of how to cook on site; like the recipe, this too is getting some serious thought.

While we're not yet there, I'm hoping we get to simple. On game day, we'll have a few thousand people to deal with, so the recipe and the cooking needs to be easy. On top of that, we're hoping to have some fun -- maybe catch a bit of frisbee as the chili simmers. It all comes down to the judges...


  1. What exactly was that, Sean?

  2. Aw c'mon Suzy! :) Chili *is* complex don't cha know!

    I am staying out of the cooking rig discussion... ;)