October 19, 2018

Chili Cook-off: Make the Winning Recipe

chili cookoff 2018 og image

The chili was hot and the competition was fierce at the 28th annual Chili Cook-off on October 14, 2018. Ten student teams spent weeks perfecting their recipes, but in the end there could be only one winner of the $1,000 prize. The Future Chefs of America team of Shubhankar Bhargava, Justin Ilkhanoff, and Jerry Zheng emerged triumphant, with their Fire-Roasted Chili with Beer-Braised Short Ribs.

This first-place chili will be a hit with the gang on Game Day or the ultimate comfort food for a casual family dinner (with lots of leftovers!).

Fire-Roasted Chili with Beer-Braised Short Ribs

Makes 10 to 12 servings

Beer-Braised Short Ribs

2 tablespoons canola oil

3 pounds short ribs

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1 red onion, diced

4 cloves garlic, finely chopped

2 (12-ounce) bottles of light Mexican beer

1 tablespoon Mexican oregano

2 bay leaves

Fire-Roasted Chili

3 poblano peppers

3 tablespoons canola oil, plus a little more to drizzle over poblano peppers

Kosher salt

3 red bell peppers, diced

3 medium red onions, diced

2 jalapeños, seeds removed, finely chopped

8 cloves garlic, finely minced

1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste

1 pound lean ground beef

1 tablespoon garlic powder

1 tablespoon onion powder

1/2 tablespoon ancho chile powder*

1/2 tablespoon pasilla chile powder*

1 teaspoon àrbol chile powder*

2 teaspoons cocoa powder

1 tablespoon Mexican oregano

1 teaspoon black pepper

1 teaspoon cumin

1 (12-ounce) bottle of light Mexican beer

2 cups chicken stock

3 (15-ounce) cans fire-roasted tomatoes

1 (28-ounce) can tomato sauce

2 (15.5-ounce) cans pinto beans, drained and rinsed

2 (15.5-ounce) cans kidney beans, drained and rinsed

Tortilla chips (optional)

Shredded cheddar cheese (optional)

Honey-jalapeño cornbread croutons (optional)

Lime crema (optional)

*If you can’t source the various chile powders, substitute regular chili powder 1 to 1.

For the Beer-Braised Short Ribs

  1. Preheat canola oil in a Dutch oven (or another pan with a lid that is deep enough to contain the short ribs and braising liquid), over medium to high heat.
  2. Pat short ribs dry with a paper towel to ensure a good sear.
  3. Sprinkle short ribs generously on all sides with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  4. When oil is hot, add the short ribs to the pan, searing on all sides until they develop a deep golden-brown crust, about 5 minutes per side.
  5. Remove seared short ribs from pot.
  6. Add red onion. Season with kosher salt and cook until translucent and slightly browned, stirring occasionally.
  7. Add garlic and cook until golden-brown.
  8. Add beer and stir, loosening up any brown bits stuck on the bottom of the pan.
  9. Add Mexican oregano and bay leaves and return short ribs to the pan. The short ribs should be almost completely submerged by the liquid.
  10. Bring the pot to a boil, then reduce heat to low to maintain a simmer.
  11. Cover with lid and simmer for 2 to 3 hours, until the meat is fork-tender and slides easily off the bone.
  12. Remove short ribs from pan and let cool, then shred the meat with your fingers, removing as much fat as possible.

For the Fire-Roasted Chili

  1. While the short ribs are braising, preheat your broiler.
  2. Place whole poblano peppers on a foil-lined baking sheet. Drizzle poblanos with a little canola oil and season with kosher salt.
  3. Broil peppers on the top rack of your oven until blackened and blistered, about 7 minutes per side, turning as necessary.
  4. Remove from oven, place in bowl, and cover with plastic wrap. Let sit for 10 minutes; this will loosen the skins from the peppers, making them easier to peel.
  5. Remove skin and seeds from peppers, and chop into medium dice.
  6. Heat 3 tablespoons canola oil in a large stockpot over medium heat.
  7. Once hot, add diced roasted poblano peppers, diced red bell peppers, diced red onions, and minced jalapeños. Season generously with kosher salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are softened.
  8. Add garlic and cook until golden-brown.
  9. Add tomato paste and mix until combined.
  10. Add ground beef, stirring occasionally until evenly browned. Season with kosher salt.
  11. Add garlic powder, onion powder, all chile powders, cocoa powder, Mexican oregano, black pepper, and cumin. Stir to combine.
  12. Add beer, chicken stock, fire-roasted tomatoes, tomato sauce, and beans. Stir to combine and season with kosher salt.
  13. Bring chili to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer.
  14. Add shredded short ribs and let cook for at least 3 hours.
  15. Serve with lime crema, honey-jalapeño cornbread croutons, tortilla chips, and/or shredded cheddar cheese.


Chef’s note: Chili always tastes better the second day. You can refrigerate it for a few days or freeze it for several months.