- Author: Kathy Keatley Garvey
When Solano County 4-H’ers compete in their annual Chili Cookoff, part of the countywide Project Skills Day, the competition is as fierce as some of the hot peppers. This year’s cookoff was no different.
When it was all over but the tasting, the “Beanless Babes Do Beans,” a duo from the Maine Prairie 4-H Club, Dixon, won the championship, followed by “The Golden Spice Girls,” a trio from the Tremont 4-H Club, Dixon.
Both teams provided unusual recipes: the Beanless Babes opted for elk burger instead of the traditional beef and named their chili, “Hunter’s Chili.” The Golden Spice Girls used beer, chocolate, coffee and sugar in their chili, naming it “Bad Character Chili.” The Tremont 4-H’ers derived the name from a great-grandmother who used to refer to folks who indulged too much as “bad characters.”
Judges proclaimed both dishes as delicious, but especially the Beanless Babes' dish made by Lauren Kett and Rebecca Ivanusich.
“It was really good,” said judge Jim Baumann, owner of The Point Restaurant, Rio Vista. Fellow judges Trish San Nicolas of the Golden Hills 4-H Club, Vacaville, and Jose Topete of the U.S. Coast Guard, based in Rio Vista, agreed. They said they were impressed with the taste, creativity and presentation.
The recipe was based on a recipe published by the North American Hunting Club. “This was the first time we made it,” said Rebecca. Lauren's father provided the elk burger.
The second-place chili, made by Kaylee Lindgren, Savannah Woodruff and Hannah Crawford-Steward, also drew praise from the judges. "Wonderful!" said San Nicolas.
Eight teams from 4-H clubs throughout the county competed in the Solano County 4-H Chili Cookoff, held earlier this year in Riverview School, Rio Vista.
Also participating were six other teams: the Three Amigos from the Rio Vista 4-H Club; Red Hot Chili Peppers from Sherwood Forest 4-H Club, Vallejo; Suisun Valley Cowboys from the Suisun Valley 4-H Club, Fairfield-Suisun; 4-H Iron Chefs from Tremont 4-H Club, Dixon; and the Chili Chicks and Firecrackers, two teams from the Vaca Valley 4-H Club, Vacaville.
Here are the winning recipes. Add more hot peppers for "more kick"; adjust to preferred taste.
By Beanless Babes Do Beans
Lauren Kett and Rebecca Ivanusich
Maine Prairie 4-H Club, Dixon
1 large onion
2 hot peppers
1 bell pepper
1 tablespoon butter
1 28-ounce can whole tomatoes
1 6-ounce can tomato paste
1 cup water
1 beef bouillon cube
2 cans kidney beans
1/2 teaspoon garlic
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 bay leaf
Brown meat. Chop onion and peppers and fry in butter until limp. Add all ingredients. Simmer for at least two hours. Serves several hungry persons.
Bad Character Chili
By Southern Spice Girls
Hannah Crawford-Stewart, Kaylee Lindgren and Savannah Woodruff, Tremont 4-H Club, Dixon
3 cups onions, diced
1 pound lean ground beef
1 can (14-ounces) dark beer
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon cocoa
2 teaspoons chipotle spice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 28-ounce can drained, diced tomatoes
1-1/2 cups coffee, made from caramel-flavored beans
1-1/2 tablespoons garlic, minced
1 pound beef sirloin, cubed
4 ounces of espresso
2 6-ounce cans tomato paste
1 packet beefy onion soup mix
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon coriander
2 28-ounce cans drained kidney beans
1 7-ounce can mild green chilies, diced
In a large pot, cook onions, garlic and meat until brown. Add beer and stir over medium heat for 3 minutes. Add espresso, brown sugar and tomato paste. Stir in cocoa, soup mix and spices. Stir in one can of kidney beans, tomatoes and green chilies. Reduce heat and simmer for 1-1/2 hours, stir occasionally. Add flavored coffee and one can of kidney beans. Reduce heat and simmer for 1/2 hour, stir occasionally. Optional toppings: fried onions and sour cream. Serves 6 to 8.
The Solano County 4-H Youth Development Program is headquartered at 501 Texas St., Fairfield.