Foodieobsessed's Blog

Fall Chili Cook Off

Three years ago I joined what my office calls the “Comm Team” or Communications Team. Basically it is a group of us that get together and think up events and fun drawings and things to earn money for office happiness inducing activities. The Comm Team is one of my favorite things at work because our job is to make people HAPPY about being a part of the office community.

For my first Halloween on the Comm Team we decided to do a Chili Cook Off. If you watch Food Network and are obsessed with the challenge shows like I am then you will understand my excitement surrounding this event! I love cooking, competition, and my office so it was a great way to have them all in one place. We had people sign up to bring chili, voting ballots, and lots of delicious corn bread and apple cider to go along with the fall feel. I was dressed up in my costume (which happened to be white, jeesh) and serving delicious batches of homemade chili for everyone to taste. I was not #1 that year but it was well worth the effort and fun!

Chili is probably my favorite dish to make in the fall. Hubs and I have a forced tradition (by me) of eating chili and corn bread on Halloween with candy and horror movies. I love to make superbowl Sunday chili and make it at least once a week. This is just a warning since there will be a lot of chili recipes on this blo

Here is the competition chili I am making for the third annual Chili Cook off!

Chocolate Champion Chili

Spice Mix:

1/2 cup brown sugar (less if you like it less sweet)

1/4 cup good quality cocoa powder

2 TBS Chili powder

1 tbs smoked paprika

1 tsp onion powder

1 tsp ground Cumin

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tbs kosher salt

1 tsp black pepper

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (less or more depending on how much heat you enjoy!)

1/2 tsp Mexican Oregano (regular will work if you don’t have Mexican! It is just a stronger form of Oregano).


1 TBS Olive oil

1 softball sized onion (or two small)

6 cloves garlic, minced

2 32 ounce cans diced tomatoes in juice

2/3rd can (or 3 TBS) tomato paste

1/2 cup strong brewed coffee (I used the left over from the morning)

1 pound dry black beans (or two cans)

2 pounds ground beef (I use 97/3 but you can use whatever fat content you like. Including ground turkey or pork!).


1. 1 day ahead (if using dry beans) pick through beans to make sure there are no rocks. Rinse. Add to a pan of cold water and let set over night. Drain and set aside.

2. Mix seasoning mixture together. You are looking for a spicey/salty/sweet combo! Set aside.

3. Chop up onions and mince garlic. Preheat pan with olive oil. Add vegetables and sautee until translucent, at least 5 minutes. Add ground beef, and brown until deep brown. 10 minutes.

4. Add tomato paste and stir until brown. You want most of the water to cook off to deepen the flavor. I stir my meat a lot to really crumble it up. I like it evenly dispersed in the chili rather then in big chunks. Add coffee to deglaze the pan.

5. Mix in seasonings. Let heat up before adding the remaining ingrediants tomatoes with juice, beans, and 3 (32 oz) cans worth of hot tap water.

6. Let simmer for 2-3 hours or until the beans are tender. Add more water as needed to keep it moist. Thicken it to your liking.

7. Serve with your favorite sides. Diced onion, cheddar cheese, and cornbread is our favorite!


Chili is better the more you let it simmer and set before eating. The flavors really get a chance to deepen and marry. I borrowed some of the techniques for this particular chili from Anne Burrell’s Bolognese Sauce. Taking the time to really brown the meat, deepen it with the tomato paste, and letting it simmer for a long time with water for help really make a delicious and deep tasting chili. The chocolate and coffee combination were inspired by Barefoot Contessa. Ina always says that coffee intensifys the flavor of chocolate and so I thought what could be better in a savory chocolate chili?

I know you might go “ew” or “huh” about the chocolate in this dish. But chocolate is a delicious combination with any kind of chilis and heat. It is traditional in a lot of Mexican dishes. This chili will be sweet, spicey, savory, and deep tasting!


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