Friday, June 19, 2009

Chili Cook-off Test Kitchen #3

This weekend is our next test round for the 28th Annual Palo Alto Chili Cook-off, probably not the last. We've settled on a base recipe and are now experimenting with quality of ingredients; Smart and Final #10 cans vs. the ingredients we'd cook with at home, such as Muir Glen fire roasted tomatoes.

Click here to see the recipe, it's evolution, and our notes.

As we taste the chili tonight, I did a bit of digging on chili judging. Turns out there is actually a Chili Appreciation Society that publishes an official chili judging sheet. Here it is:

Fine chili should look good, smell good and taste good! Accordingly, each cup of chili is to be judged on five (5) criteria to arrive at one whole number. You will rate the chili on a scale from zero to 20 for each of the five categories:
  1. Color - Chili should look appetizing, reddish brown is generally accepted as good.
  2. Aroma - Chili should smell good. This also indicates what is in store when you taste it.
  3. Consistency - Chili must have a good ratio between sauce and meat. It should not be dry, watery, grainy, lumpy, or greasy.
  4. Taste - Taste, above all else is the most important factor. The taste should consist of the combination of the meat, spices, etc. with no particular ingredient being dominate.
  5. Aftertaste - The aftertaste or bite is the heat created by the various types of spices and or peppers.

Key lesson from tonight is that simmering time matters. With our chili, roughly 1.5h simmer time made a HUGE difference in the flavor. Still some tweaking required for the recipe, but this is progress...

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