There are probably too many of you out there that think chili is just a bowl of meat and spice. Boy, you could not have been more wrong. A metric ton of meat is really just the beginning. It gets a whole lot complicated from there.
Packed shoulder to pork shoulder, 12 teams once again faced off to prove that they could make the tastiest—or at least spiciest—chili in Dongguan. As the groups arrived at One for the Road to setup and unpack, the focus was already dense: organizing, cutting, cooking, tasting and polishing.
By, the late morning, self-professed culinary experts began to arrive in droves all eager to get a taste of a dozen modern takes on the classic Americana dish. Meanwhile, officials walked around the modest cooking area, examining each table’s décor and theme—exactly judging each group by their cookbook’s cover.
For six consecutive years, this fiery event has been running primarily to fundraise for Dongguan’s local youth baseball team, which helps kids across Dongguan learn about the great American pastime and have a little bit of fun along the way. Years ago, when my dad used to throw me pitch after pitch—continuously telling me I was having a great time—I now realize that if we had chili and beer to spice up our practice, it might have actually been true.
“This year was run smoother and more enjoyable for the people who attended. Each year, we do a recap meeting [after the event] and ask participants for feedback. We then make adjustments for the next year to make it all even better,” said Jim Mann, leader of the Dongguan Dragons Baseball Club.
Overall, the event was a huge success, raising almost 100,000 RMB—enough for anyone interested to play ball for a whole year, gratis—for the baseball club, which also recently celebrated the opening of their brand-new field at nearby ISD.
“This year, we gave a lot more barrels of beer than prior years. Drinking for the children seemed to work. The chili this year was also better than ever,” said Jason Cakebread of One for the Road.
The winners at this year’s event were both surprising and anticipated. Coming in first was our very own, HERE! Dongguan squad, led by the incredibly meticulous cooking of Dirk Rommeswinkel (note: try Dirk’s award winning recipe at home; flip to the next page for the full rundown). The Trippy Hippies—sporting a delightfully colorful theme—grabbed second and Scott Higginbotham’s chili scored third.
“The Chili Cook-Off offers a great platform to support budding baseball stars in China and to bring the international community of Dongguan closer. It is such a festive annual competition that makes it fun and enjoyable for me as a participant. I hope that the Cook-Off keeps growing ever more prominent, as it truly is a unique event in Dongguan. My sincere thanks to the Dongguan Dragons for making this happen,” said Dirk Rommeswinkel, the HERE! chef at the event.
The People’s Choice went to ISD’s chili, with plenty of support from fans in the audience. NEMO Bar came straight from the Caribbean to steal the show dressed as pirates to nab the Best Costume award. Polly want a cracker with that chili?
Next year, teams are encouraged to work even harder to develop their theme and table design and it seems like groups are already working for the future with plans to build larger table structures. Sure, the sky’s the limit at this event, but let’s just not forget about the detail that matters most: the chili—I mean, children.
Dongguan Smokin’ Chili
Created by Dirk Rommeswinkel & Family (Feeds 18-20 persons, as measured.)
2 cups apple juice
2 cups water
500 g dried red kidney beans
500 g dried small black beans
2 teaspoons McCormick’s Caraway Seeds
2 kg chunky ground U.S. rump roast, aka Silverside Beef (silverside removed)
1 kg smoked American Bacon; thickly sliced
1 kg chunky ground Pork Tenderloin
1 kg pure beef breakfast sausages; NOT pork sausage
1/4 cup McCormick’s Dark Chili powder (not spicy chili powder)
1/4 cup McCormick’s Taco Seasoning
1 tablespoon McCormick ‘s Hot Mexican Chili Powder
2 tablespoons McCormick’s Steak Seasoning
2 tablespoons McCormick’s Cumin Powder
1/2 cup McCormick’s Extra Fancy Paprika
1 tablespoon McCormick’s Ground Coriander Seed
1 tablespoon McCormick’s Ground Cinnamon
1 tablespoon McCormick’s Bay Leaf Powder
1/2 cup lime juice
2 tablespoons A.1. Sauce original; NO SUBSTITUTION
2 tablespoons Better Than Bouillon: Beef; NO SUBSTITUTION
8 cans S&W Stewed Tomatoes Sliced with Mild Chili & Mexican Seasoning
1 8-ounce can Tomato paste; as additional tomato flavor or thickener if desired
1 16-ounce jar sliced, pickled, mild jalape?os;
DRAIN BRINE; use 50% for chili and 50% as condiments
1 long green spicy pepper; finely chopped
10 stalks (aka ribs/stems) celery
2 Vidalia onions
4 stalks (~20 stems total) fresh coriander
3 green bell peppers
3 yellow bell peppers
3 red bell peppers
2 Thai red chilies (finely chopped)
For Condiments Purposes:
3 bunches/15 stalks fresh coriander; finely chopped
shredded sharp cheddar or pepper jack cheese
remaining drained, sliced, pickled, mild jalape?os
1. Soak red kidney beans in 1 cup apple juice + 1 cup water + 1 tsp caraway seeds in sealed container for 24 hours in refrigerator. Shake or stir every 8 hours.
2. Soak black beans in 1 cup apple juice + 1 cup water + 1 tsp caraway seeds in sealed container for 24 hours in refrigerator. Shake or stir every 8 hours.
Day 2 (4 hours prior to serving)
3. Start coal (using wood chips to get smoke), or wood-fired BBQ.
4a. After soaking small beans, place the kidney beans and soaking marinade into a pot and bring to a boil on the stove; cook just until tender (~20 minutes at boil); add water, if necessary. Set aside. Note: DO NOT DRAIN AFTER COOKING!
4b. After soaking beans, place the small black beans and soaking marinade into a pot and bring to a boil on the stove; cook just until tender (~15 minutes at boil); add water, if necessary. Set aside. Note: DO NOT DRAIN AFTER COOKING!
5. While beans are cooking, make burger patties from the coarse ground beef, and cook on grill. Note: COVER with anything to capture BBQ smoke; cook until medium rare, can even just cook one side of patties. Set aside when done.
6. Cook beef breakfast sausages on grill until medium.
7. Coarsely chop barbequed beef breakfast sausages or use a food processor to break apart. Set aside.
Day 2 (3 hours prior to serving)
8. Chop vegetables.
9. Open cans of stewed tomatoes and place in food processor. Pulse-blend for 5 seconds, twice. Set aside.
10. In your chili pot, cook bacon bits until crispy at medium to high heat. DO NOT REMOVE BACON; DO NOT DRAIN HOT BACON GREASE FROM CHILI POT.
11. As soon as the bacon bits are crispy, add the ground pork tenderloin to the chili pot that has the hot bacon grease; cook until rare (~5 minutes).
12. Add chopped celery and cook ~15 minutes.
13. Add all other chopped vegetables; cook for 5 minutes.
14. Add all other ingredients: seasonings, beans + bean marinade, cooked hamburger patties, chopped beef sausages, etc. Note: DO NOT ADD TOMATO PASTE (only add tomato paste if you need more tomato flavor and/or thicker chili is desired).
15. Cook chili on medium heat for ~30 minutes; stirring continually AND breaking down the hamburger into smaller pieces.
Day 2 (2 hours prior to serving)
16. Turn down to low heat. Cover pot and let simmer. Stir about every 20 minutes thereafter.
Day 2 (30 mins prior to serving)
17. Check on desired flavor balance, spiciness and desired thickness of chili. Add spices according to guests’ tastes.
18a. Add water to thin out, if necessary.
18b. To thicken, add tomato paste OR simmer the last 30 minutes without lid, stirring continuously
Want to quickly grab all ingredients for this recipe? Try Nogogo Online Grocery to easily find everything you need and have it delivered to your home. They generously provided everything needed for the 2016 Chili Cook-Off’s winning recipe. Time for you to cook like an all-star, too.