Monday, October 19, 2009

The Great Chili Cook-Off- Part 1

My workplace decided this week to have a chili cook-off. We had a pie baking contest a few months ago and I was a judge, a fantastic honor that ended with a lot of good pie and a serious sugar rush. Thankfully our chili cook-off will include complementary Tums. Now, competition cooking is not something I usually do, mainly because as a home cook I still have a somewhat fragile ego (as I'm sure we all do when it comes to cooking new things). But the only way to grow is to try new things, right? I'm giving this a shot, hopefully with good results.

I have been making a white chili since before I started this blog, and I'm pretty proud of it. I'm going to put it up against the others in hopes of actually placing, which is hard since most people prefer a traditional red chili. My biggest problem though is my love of spice. I eat fiery food. I used to eat habanero salsa when I worked a Mexican restaurant, if that says anything. Needless to say, a lot of people do not really share my "slow burn on the lips" philosophy. Which just means I get to make test batches.

The first batch was made pretty much following my original recipe. I swapped out fresh tomatillos for the canned ones (I found a great local Mexican market for them) as well as added a fresh jalapeno. However, WHY ARE THERE NO FRESH GREEN CHILES? I know, I know, I'm spoiled growing up in the Southwest. But I recently watched a travel show talking about how the Hatch chile supply is decreasing due to lack of sales. I guarantee if they put some fresh ones next to the poblanos in the store this would help the problem. In fact, they can replace the poblanos if that makes it better. With the surge of Mexican food going on in the States, it makes sense to stock something that is very unique to us. But back to the chili.

I brought my batch into work for some taste testing on calm and unbiased tongues. Mostly positive reviews, though some thought it was a bit thick and maybe the fresh tomatillos were a bit tart. It does need a bit of tweaking, so I think I'm going to make another batch next week. I'm a bachelor this weekend, so I'm thinking a nice pumpkin beer and a pot of chili will make this horrible Indiana weather a bit more bearable.

What about the food world out there, do you make white chili?

I apologize for no pictures with this post. The camera is in California at the moment :)

White Chili

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound ground turkey (at least 90/10, I like 95/5)
1 onion, diced fine
4 cloves garlic, diced
2 chipotle peppers in their adobo sauce, diced
2 4 oz. cans diced green chiles
1 10oz can green enchilada sauce
1 pound fresh tomatillos, husks and stems removed
1 jalapeno
1/4 cup cilantro
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup dry pearled barley
32oz . cans chicken stock
1 15oz. can cannellini bean beans, rinsed
1/2 tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon chili powder (go for the Ancho kind, its smokey)
1 tablespoon cornmeal
1 tablespoon tomato paste
Sour cream

Heat broiler to high. Arrange tomatillos (stem side down) on a foil lined baking sheet along with jalapeno. Place in middle of oven, roast for 5 minutes or until slightly charred. Flip and continue to roast until charred on other side. Remove from oven can cool slightly. Peel and seed jalapeno, remove stem part from tomatillo. Place tomatillos, jalapeno, cilantro, sugar, green enchilada sauce, and some salt in pepper in a food processor. Pulse until mostly smooth.

Heat about olive oil over medium heat in a large pot. Add onion and cook until slightly wilted, about 3-5 minutes. Add garlic and cook one minute longer. Add turkey, breaking it apart and cooking until it has lost its pink color. Add the chipotles, cumin, chili powder, and some salt and pepper. Stir and cook for about 1 minute. Add the tomatillo mixture and pearled barley, followed by chicken stock. Stir, bring to a boil and lower heat to a simmer. Cover and simmer for about 30 minutes. Add beans and cook 10 more minutes, or until barley becomes only slightly chewy. Remove lid, stir in cornmeal and tomato paste, and cook for about 5 more minutes. Serve topped with a bit of sour cream.


April Cavin October 19, 2009 at 8:57 PM  

I've never made white chili before, but it sounds delicious. If the tomatillos are too tart you should try roasting them to bring out the sweetness-- might help balance the flavor. Good luck with the cook-off!

Cookin' Canuck October 19, 2009 at 11:44 PM  

I like the addition of the chipotle pepper - such a great smoky flavor! Great idea of April's to roast the tomatillos.

Skylar Wolfe October 20, 2009 at 11:34 AM  

That's what I ended up doing in my second batch. Worked wonderfully!

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