There’s nothing like a bowl of spicy, delicious chili! I should know. I work as the Chili Chick (giant red chili costume complete with fishnet stockings and stilettoes), dancing in front of Texas Jack Pierce’s Hot Cha Chili Seasoning Palace at the Chili Showdown that travels from town to town.
Unfortunately, not everyone’s lucky enough to be near the Showdown, but if you have a hankerin’ for chili and a taste for a little cook-off competition of your own, you can always host your own chili cook-off party. It’s easy and great fun!
Most chili cook-offs you read about are gigantic affairs designed to raise money for some worthy cause. Think of the same concept, but on a smaller scale.
1. Invite your friends and tell them to bring along a pot of their favorite chili. Suggest they bring it in a slow cooker, and make sure you have plenty of electrical strips so you can plug all those cookers in. Have them bring copies of their recipes, too. I guarantee, guests are going to want them!
2. It’s fun to keep each chef anonymous, so number each pot of chili.
3. You’ll also want to have an assortment of go-alongs: cheese, sour cream, sliced jalapenos, avocado, olives, onions. You’ll probably want to have some corn chips and cornbread, too. Both go great with chili! Crackers are palate cleansers, and a good thing to munch between chili tastings.
4. If there are going to be kids at your party, remember, they won’t always eat chili. You’ll want some other foods around for them.
5. And don’t forget the drinks. Me, I’m a beer drinker, and it goes great with chili. It wouldn’t hurt to have some cold milk on hand, either. Dairy products help diffuse the spice of chili.
6. Decide on your chili categories ahead of time and print up voting ballots. You’ll probably want categories like Tastiest Chili, Most Unusual Chili, Spiciest Chili.
7. Give each guest a ballot and enough small bowls (two ounces is a good size) to sample each of the chilis. You’ll also want to have some regular size bowls around for those chilis that are a real hit that people want more of.
8. Tally up the ballots, declare your winners, and don’t forget about prizes. You can find printable chili certificates on the Internet and there are plenty of other things you can give as prizes, too: cute chili bowls, T-shirts, aprons. Or how about a copy of “Chili Con Carnage!”
It’s all great fun and your guests will end up with recipes to take home along with their memories. With any luck, I won’t need to stop in and check out any murders that go along with the chili!