February 25th Is National Chili Day

February 24th, 2012 by Craig Mullins

Hey all you chili lovers! National Chili Day is February 25th!!

Did you know that chili did not originate in Mexico as many people believe? In fact, chili is virtually non existent in Mexico, except in the areas catering to tourists.

While no one seems to know for sure where chili was first made, there is an old Native American legend which says that during the 17th century a beautiful nun nicknamed “the lady in blue” created the recipe for chili while in a trance.

There is also a Spanish legend that claims priests in the 19th century referred to the first chili mix as “the soup of the Devil” because of aphrodisiac qualities people believed could be found in chili peppers.

The popularity of chili has grown by leaps and bounds over the centuries, eventually leading to the forming of the not-for-profit International Chili Society (ICS). The ICS is responsible for sanctioning chili cookoffs with rules, regulations, and judging. ICS cookoff events happen all over the world and benefit non-profit organizations and charities.

Winners of the various ICS sanctioned cookoffs are automatically entered to compete for cash prizes and other awards at the yearly World’s Championship Chili Cookoff held in October.

So what are the chili judges looking for in a winning bowl of chili? According to the ICS, there are five main attributes the judges look for…..

TASTE Taste, above all else is the most important factor. The taste should consist of the combination of the meat, peppers, spices, etc, with no particular ingredient being dominant, but rather a blend of the flavors.

CONSISTENCY Chili must have a good ratio between sauce and meat. It should not be dry, watery, grainy, lumpy, or greasy.

AROMA Chili should smell good. This also indicates what is in store when you taste it.

COLOR Chili should look appetizing. Reddish brown is generally accepted as good. Chili is not yellow or green.

BITE Bite or after taste is the heat created by the various type of chili peppers and chili spices.

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In 1967 the International Chili Society held its first World’s Championship Chili Cookoff (WCCC), and since then, has become the largest food contest festival organization in the world.

Winning Chili Recipe from 1967, created by H. Allen Smith and Wick Fowler:

Ingredients:
4 lbs course-ground chopped sirloin or tenderloin
Olive oil or butter
1-2 small cans tomato paste, with water
OR fresh tomatoes, finely chopped
OR canned tomatoes pressed through a colander
3-4 medium onions, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
2-10 cloves garlic, minced
1 TBS oregano
1/2 TSP sweet basil
1 TBS cumin seed or ground cumin
Salt and pepper to taste
3 TBS (or more) chili power
OR some chili pods

Instructions:
In a 4-quart pot, brown meat in oil or butter or in a blend of the two. Add the remaining ingredients, Simmer 2-3 hours with the lid on.

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Happy National Chili Day!!

How do you plan on celebrating? Do you have a favorite chili recipe? I would love to know about it!

national chili day february 25 2012
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