Next month, it's once again time to crown our region's own chili recipe stand-out for a good cause.
Merrillville High School Key Club and the Lupus Foundation of America, Indiana Chapter are hosting the 11th Anniversary Northwest Indiana Chili Cook-Off and Tasting Event at Merrillville High School, 276 E. 68th Place, from 3 to 6 p.m. March 9. This year's event is in the cafeteria and guests and contestants enter at Entrance J.
When I was first asked to be a judge for this event the year it launched in 2003, I never expected to still be critiquing delicious and inventive chili a decade later.
I'm told just five contestant spots remain and "it's first come, first served" until the March 2 deadline to fill the spots.
Applications from individuals and organizations are accepted at lupusindiana.org. You can also contact the contest committee chair Carrie Bedwell at firstname.lastname@example.org to request an application or call her at (219) 650-5307, ext. 7115.
Contestants can begin set up at 2 p.m. and MUST be in attendance for a meeting at 2:30 p.m.
Contestants submit a $25 refundable deposit upon registration. The check will be returned at the event or may be placed in the voting tip jar. For contestants who fail to attend, the $25 is kept as a donation to the Lupus Foundation.
Each contestant should provide an ample supply of chili to serve samples. Last year, approximately 300 people attended. Chili should be prepared off-site and brought in a container suitable for keeping the chili warm. Each contestant should provide a tablecloth and theme items to enhance presentation.
The LFA provides taste cups, napkins, bowls and spoons. Condiments and spices must be provided by the contestant. A list of rules and suggestions is available on the LFA website.
Official judging is at 4 p.m. The Judges' Award winner for the Best All-Around Chili and the People's Choice Award prizes are presented at 6 p.m.
Funds raised will be credited to each contestant's tip jar, and contestants can also donate their $25 deposit. Admission to the event is $5 at the door.
This week's recipe is for a chili favorite from teacher Stephen Foster who lives in the history-rich landscape of the Pullman neighborhood in Chicago.
Steve's Perfect Grade Chili
1 pound ground turkey (or ground beef)
1 onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
2 (15-ounce) cans tomato sauce
1 (8-ounce) can tomato paste
1 (10-ounce) can diced tomatoes with green chilies
1 (15.5-ounce) can chili beans, undrained
1 (15.5-ounce) can black beans, undrained
1 (15.5-ounce) can kidney beans (either dark or light), undrained
1 (15.25-ounce) can whole kernel corn, undrained
1 (7-ounce) can chopped green chilies
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
Garnish: corn chips, shredded cheese, chopped raw onion, sour cream
DIRECTIONS: Brown turkey with onions, until thoroughly cooked and onions are transparent. Add all the other ingredients (do not drain any of the cans - beans, corn, tomatoes with chilies, or chilies. Stir. Cook on medium high heat until it comes to a boil. Stir occasionally. Turn down heat to let chili simmer 20 minutes. Serve in bowls and add desired toppings.