Chili Cook-Off, Part I

A recent new tradition at my school is a Chili Cook Off to raise money for our band department.  (Last year was the inaugural contest.)

You know I can’t resist a cooking contest so this year I challenged all the other administrators to a chill smack down.   Who knows if the others will meet the challenge, but I have already started experimenting with recipes.

During the holidays, I tried this chili to top some tamales.  It was really good and even better when I stretched it into another holiday meal by adding some beans.

We made it again this week to see how else we needed to tweak it.   Here’s our current version.


No-Bean Chili


  • 1 T. ground cumin
  • 1 T. dried oregano
  • 1 T. chili powder
  • 1/2 t. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 t. Cajun seasoning
  • 1 T. of granulated sugar
  • 2 T. Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 T. soy sauce
  • 1 T. Sriracha
  • 1 T. red wine vinegar
  • 1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
  • 2 pounds ground chuck
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 2 medium green bell peppers, diced
  • 1 (4.5) oz can mild green chiles
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 2 medium bay leaves
  • salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste


  1. Combine cumin, oregano, chili pwder, cinnamon, Cajun seasoning and sugar in a small bowl.  Mix using a small whisk; set aside.
  2. In another small bowl, combine the Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, Sriracha, tomato paste and vinegar.  Mix and set aside.
  3. Heat a large Dutch oven or soup pot over medium high heat. Add the beef and cook, breaking up the ground beef, for about 5 minutes.   Add the onion, bell peppers, chiles and garlic and saute until tender, about 5-10 minutes more. Drain off any excess fat.
  4. Add the dry seasoning mixture to the beef, and continue to cook about 5 minutes longer. Add the wet seasoning to the beef mixture, cooking for about 4 minutes longer. Add the beef stock and bay leaves and bring to a boil.
  5. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered for one hour. Season with salt and pepper; taste and adjust as needed.



  • Use as a chili “sauce” on tamales or for Frito chili pies or hot dogs.
  • Add beans.
  • Garnish with whatever you imagine:  jalapenos, tomatoes, cheese, sour cream, tortilla strips, etc.

This may have too much cinnamon in it for some, but as the chili cooks, the cinnamon blends in and adds a really nice level of flavor.

So, it remains to be seen if this will be the trophy winning recipe.   If we have time, we may play around with some others.  (I may try President Johnson’s Chili Con Carne from my Grandmother’s recipe archives and from an ancient EE post–January 23, 2011.)


I added the Sriracha and the vinegar to the original recipe because it needed a bit of acid.  I also substituted soy sauce for the Kitchen Bouquet that was in the original recipe.  Finally, I added a bit more onion and green pepper to the pot.  Please check out the original recipe here.


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