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The Charleston Animal Society’s Chili Cook-off and Oyster Roast

We made 7 batches (!!!!) of chili this week with the College of Charleston Alumni team for the Charleston Animal Society’s Chili Cook-off and Oyster Roast at the Citadel’s football stadium.

Event in full swing
Event in full swing

I didn’t get many pictures of the chili prep, but take a look at JUST the veggies that had to be chopped.

The veg for massive amounts of chili
The veg for massive amounts of chili

The chopping fell on the hands of the sous chef- that was me. Alfonso was our chef and we took one day just to do the prep work!

It was worth it though. The Charleston Animal Society’s Chili Cook-off and Oyster Roast this past Saturday was a success! There were two rounds of judging and we made it through the first round.

Our fearless leader, Meredith, accepting our ribbon
Our fearless leader, Meredith, accepting our ribbon
Cougar Stew by Chef Alfonso and our new promotional cards for the blog
Cougar Stew by Chef Alfonso and our new promotional cards for the blog
Some CofC Alumni serving up the chili
Some CofC Alumni serving up the chili
Messy pot, delicious chili
Messy pot, delicious chili

We didn’t quite make it through the second round, but there is always next year! The competition was stiff. The judges looked deep in chili concentration every time we walked passed their booth. Sniffing. Tasting. Judging.

Chili judges
Chili judges

They had some awesome chili to pick through, like these:

As Alfonso will tell you, I have terrible taste in T.V. shows, so an homage to the Real Housewives franchise was right up my alley!

My favorite booth decorations
My favorite booth decorations

Some of our neighbors:

The chili that bites you back!
The chili that bites you back!
Roadkill chili
Texas roadkill chili
The Dark Side chili
The Dark Side chili

A couple of pictures of the cuteness to our right, Circus Chili:

The ringleader, the lion, and The Strongest Man in the World
The ringleader, the lion, and The Strongest Man in the World
The Strongest Man in the World faces off with The Charleston Stingrays mascot
The Strongest Man in the World faces off with The Charleston Stingrays mascot

I’ll share the chili recipe with you in a moment, but for now, here’s some more photos of the event, starting with a series I like to call “People and their Pooches”.

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a22a23a21a26a27I’ll leave you with one last picture before I give you the recipe. This guy.

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Cougar Stew

*modified slightly from the competition chili

1 lb ground beef

1 large onion, diced

2 stalks celery, diced

2 carrots, diced

3 T tomato paste

3 T chili powder

1 T cumin

1 T salt

1 t pepper

2 large cloves of garlic, minced

1 T unsweetened cocoa powder

3 T flour

2 cans diced tomatoes, drained

1 red bell pepper, roasted and diced (see roasting instructions below)

1.5 quarts beef stock, warmed

1 can black beans, drained

1 can red beans, drained

1 can corn, drained

more salt and pepper to taste

To roast the pepper:

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Put the dry, unseasoned pepper on a baking sheet and roast in the oven for about 1 hour, turning it at the 30 minute mark. Pepper should have black char on the outside. Place roasted pepper in a glass bowl and cover with plastic wrap for 20 minutes. Remove the pepper, split open, remove the seeds, and remove the skin. The glass bowl trick should make this really easy. Chop pepper.

To make the chili:

In a large pot over medium high heat, brown the ground beef. Once done through and golden remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. Lower the heat to medium and add the onion, celery, and carrot. Add a good sprinkling of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the veggies start to turn golden and caramelize or about 10-12 minutes. They might stick a bit to the bottom of the pot, but that’s ok. Add the tomato paste and mix in. Sprinkle over the chili powder, cumin, salt, and pepper. Mix in. Let cook (it will stick A LOT to the bottom, but it is good as long as it doesn’t burn.) for a few minutes over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and stir around for 30 seconds. Add the cocoa powder and cook for another 30 seconds. Add the flour and mix in well. Cook for 1-2 minutes. Everything will be very dry and slightly stuck to the bottom.

Add in the roasted red pepper and tomatoes. Mix well. You should be able to scrape some of the stuck bits off of the bottom with wetness of the tomatoes and pepper. You will now have a slightly wet paste in your pot. Add the stock, a little bit at a time, and use the liquid to unstick all the spices that have stuck to the bottom of the pot. Mix the stock completely into the paste. Add salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil and reduce to simmer for about 15 minutes.

Add the beans and the corn and cook for another 15 minutes. Let sit for 10 minutes before serving. Serve with cornbread or blue corn chips and top with cheddar cheese, green onions, and sour cream.


I had a restaurant review to post from this weekend too, but this post got so long, so I’ll do a post on brunches (my favorite meal of the day) later this week.

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