A Super Bowl of Chili: 4-H'ers prepare 4-alarm chili

Jan 30, 2014

A good way for 4-H'ers to test their cooking skills is to compete in a countywide chili cookoff.

Making a "super bowl" of chili is also quite timely for Super Bowl Sunday on Feb. 2, when the Denver Broncos try to defeather the Seattle Seahawks.

The Solano County 4-H Program traditionally hosts a chili cookoff at its annual Project Skills Day. All clubs in the county are invited to participate.

This year three boys enrolled in an outdoor cooking project teamed to win the four-way competition, held Jan. 11 at C. A. Jacobs School, Dixon.

Cody Ceremony, Randy Marley and Justin Means, all members of the newly formed Pleasants Valley 4-H Club in Vacaville made “4-Alarm Chili,” obtaining the recipe from Justin's uncle, Chuck Means, engineer with the Sacramento Metropolitan Fire District and a co-community leader of the Dixon Ridge 4-H Club. The boys dressed in firefighter uniforms including helmets and turnouts that Means provided.

The outdoor cooking project is a joint endeavor of the Pleasants Valley and Dixon Ridge clubs.

 “We simmered the chili for four hours,” Marley said of the recipe which included both pork and beef, plus four types of peppers: pasilla, serrano, anaheim and green bell.

They said it has "a little kick at the end," but not too much. The "heat" can be adjusted, depending on taste.

Judges scored the teams on temperature (it had to be 140 degrees or more), aroma, flavor, texture and freshness, plus a written recipe (neatness), and the overall presentation (table decor and costumes).

Julie Tanaka, a community leader of the Maine Prairie 4-H Club, Dixon, coordinated the event. Judges were Solano County Supervisor John Vasquez Jr. of Vacaville, Ed Coffelt of the Maine Prairie 4-H Club, and longtime 4-H'er Kathy Keatley Garvey of UC Davis/Vacaville.  

"The 4-Alarm Chili was very flavorful, and the team understood the combination of ingredients - the blend of the peppers and the blend of the meats," Vasquez said.

 "They all put a lot of work into it," the trio of judges agreed.

Also competing were:

  • Want Quackers With Your Chili? Vaca Valley:  Makenzie Davi, Marissa Davi and Emma Ryder
  • Jeans ‘n Beans, Pleasants Valley:  Sabrina Brown, Melanie Campilongo, Lillian Tudbury and David Witzel
  • The Persim-Monsters, Suisun Valley:  Alexis Taliafero, Clairese Wright and Robert Wright

The Quackers' key ingredient was - guess what! - "duck," purchased at a local market. The Persim-Monsters added persimmons to their chili, while the Jeans ‘n Beans team entered a more traditional chili.

Here's the winning recipe:

4-Alarm Chili
2 pounds of pork shoulder, cut in 1/2-inch chunks
2 pounds ground beef
Olive oil (as needed to brown meat)
2 cans of tomatoes (chopped or diced work best)
2 cans of beans (one kidney and one pinto), drained
2 pasilla peppers
2 serrano peppers
2 Anaheim peppers
2 green bell peppers
2 onions
2 cloves garlic
Water (approximately one cup)

Seasonings to taste:
Beef bouillon, chili powder, ground cumin, garlic salt and black pepper.

In a large stock pot, brown pork in the olive oil. Add the ground beef and continue cooking over high heat until beef is browned (about 30 minutes). Add the water and seasonings. Cook an additional 30 minutes. Add tomatoes and beans. Turn down heat and simmer for 30 minutes. While mixture is simmering, coarsely chop onions and peppers and finely chop garlic. Add these to the pot and continue cooking until pork is tender (about another 30 to 35 minutes). Check flavor and add seasonings to taste. If needed, thicken chili with cornstarch.

This recipe, featuring ground duck, got high marks from the judges.

Quackers' Chili
2 to 3 pounds ground duck (the 4-H'ers purchased duck at a local supermarket; beef can be substituted)
1 to 2 large onions, chopped
6 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon dried ground cumin, or to taste
1 tablespoon dried oregano, or to taste
1 tablespoon each of chili powder and cayenne pepper (fresh chile peppers may be substituted)
Coarse salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste
3 to 4 cups of a combination of tomato puree, tomato sauce and fresh/diced tomatoes
2-1/2 cans (14.5 ounces) of beef broth, red wine, or water can be substituted for some of the liquid (Additional broth, wine or water can be used, as needed)
1 to 2 tablespoons molasses (This helps cut down the acidity of the tomatoes. Honey may also be substituted)
1 can each of black beans and kidney beans, rinsed and drained

Grated cheddar cheese
Sour cream
Chopped green onions

in a large pot over medium-high heat, sauté ground duck, onion and garlic until meat is browned. Add cumin, oregano, chili powder, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper, tomatoes and beef broth. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, approximately 3 to 4 hours, stirring often. Additional broth, water or red wine may be added as needed.

Add molasses to taste. Add beans and continue to simmer another 30 minutes. Adjust seasonings to taste.

For maximum flavor, cool chili and refrigerate overnight so flavors will mellow. Chili is best made one day ahead to allow the flavors time to meld.

When ready to serve, skim top of solidified fat, reheat over low heat, and serve with cheese sour cream and green onions.

Solano County 4-H Program
Solano County has a total of 500 members in its 12 clubs.  Of the seven cities in the county, Dixon has the most, with five clubs.

The clubs are:
Dixon: Dixon Ridge, Maine Prairie, Roving Clovers, Tremont, and Wolfskill
Fairfield-Suisun: Suisun Valley and Westwind
Rio Vista: Rio Vista 4-H Club
Vacaville: Elmira, Vaca Valley, and Pleasants Valley
Vallejo: Sherwood Forest

More information about the Solano County 4-H program is available from Valerie Williams, Solano County 4-H program representative, Solano County Cooperative Extension, at  (707) 784-1319  or vawilliams@ucanr.edu. The website is  http://cesolano.ucdavis.edu.

Attached Images:

By Kathy Keatley Garvey
Author - Communications specialist