I'm entering my first chili competition and need advice. Is layering spice important when making chili much like Indian cooking? Also, I have a foodie friend say that adding spice is boy important before any water has been added.
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It all depends on what you're going for. We love toasting fresh, whole spices and grinding them rather than buying pre-ground spices. The flavor is fresher and stronger.
When we make chili, we also toast dried chiles in a dry skillet before grinding them. It adds a lovely, deep roasted flavor to the chili. Having said that, though, it can be nice to add toasted and untoasted spices to chili--this way you get the rich flavor of toasted spices and the "cleaner" flavor of untoasted spices--different layers of flavor.
As a good for-instance, take coriander. When it is used as-is (not toasted) it has a citrusy, floral flavor. When toasted, those flavors are still present, but less pronounced and with added muskiness and earthiness.
Good luck. I've been in over a dozen Internationl Chili Society cook-offs - lost them all ! I assume you are talking about "red" chili. Note that is blind judged, that is your container has no identifying marks on it other than your random competitor number. Chili has no beans. NO BEANS. It is chili !
Sanctioned events usually allow 1 hour for prep and 3 hours to cook. So, most chili cooks toss in all their ingredients at the front end so they have the 3 hours to blend in. The chili is just meat and spices. Period. The best meat is tri-tip that is cut into 1/8 inch cubes. (nobody uses ground beef!)
If a judge sees anything other than the meat you are marked down. For example, a piece of garlic or onion. (I cut the onion small enough that it "melted" in during the 3 hours on heat. Garlic I put in a cheesecloth bag and retrieved it prior to judging.
Most contests today have a public tasting after the official judging. At that time many folks add beans so they had more to pass out and hope for more "peoples choice" votes. I kept mine to just meat.
Check out the International Chili Society website as recipes from past winners are posted. You can learn a lot from seeing what others have done, ingredient-wise, to win.
Their website is actually got me thinking. This event is far from being sanctioned and creativity is encouraged. Coincidentally, I have one at work the day before. The garlic idea is genius for even home recipes I've never thought of that. Keep the ideas coming!
Since it is not an official event , you want yours to stand out and the best way is through taste. Heat is not your friend here. No point making it do spicy you don't know what is in it and you need to eat a gallon of yogurt to settle your mouth down.Make your standard recipe, then add something exotic, like a bit of hoisin sauce ... Folks will know it is slightly different but have no clue how you did it.
Chops is a trusted home cook.
Food52 had a chili contest, perhaps you can draw some inspirations from the winners, community picks and other entrants : http://food52.com/contests...
QueenSashy is a trusted home cook.
I found that using whole dry chili peppers, instead of the powder, creates an entirely new experience...
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