Thank you to all of the contestants, guests and organizers for last Saturday's Lupus Foundation of America, Indiana Chapter 11th Annual Chili Cook-Off at Merrillville High School.
Greg Geimer, 31, of Portage, took home the first place award from the judging panel. His unique recipe for Buffalo Chicken Chili, garnished with crumbled blue cheese and a celery stick has a fantastic flavor.
Sponsored by the Merrillville High School Key Club and the Lupus Foundation of America, Indiana Chapter, the cook-off drew nearly 300 people to Merrillville High School on Saturday. Visitors sampled the inventive chili recipes of this year's 12 contestants.
I was happy to see my former Times Home and Garden Editor Alison Skertic of Munster (who was always in charge of editing Martha Stewart's New York Times syndicated column) participating with her own special and delicious chili recipe. This event is all about raising awareness, and Alison was a first time entrant and mentioned she's had a family member touched by Lupus. Her recipe included a unique chocolate rub she found while shopping in Michigan. And since she, along with her fellow editor husband Mark, who also worked at The Times, have their fond Cincinnati ties, she based her recipe in honor of "Cincinnati chili."
Other winners from the weekend were Joan McGee, aka JoJo the Clown, of Merrillville, who raised the most money from the donations dropped in her donor box. The nearly $800 she raised was the key ingredient to net her the Lupus Award for raising the most money. Winning the People's Choice Award, based solely on votes, was Atilano Klidaras, 25, of Lowell, for his venison and chorizo sausage chili. He was also the third-place winner named by the judging panel. The second place awarded by the judges was Katelyn Holsclaw, 25, of Chesterton, for her vegetarian chili made with portobello mushrooms and a splash of dark beer.
Lark Stark, Outreach & Development for Lupus Foundation of America, Indiana Chapter and based in Indianapolis, told me Tuesday a total of $5,050 was raised during the three-hour event.
Greg's Buffalo Chicken Chili
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large white onion, diced
6 cloves of garlic, minced
8 large carrots, cleaned and diced
2 pounds ground chicken breast
1/2 tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon ground paprika
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1 (16-ounce) can cannellini beans, drained
1/2 cup hot buffalo wings sauce
Salt and pepper to taste
Crumbled blue cheese and celery strips as serving garnish
DIRECTIONS: Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic. Stir until translucent. Add the carrots and cook until soft. To this vegetable mixture, add the tomatoes and beans. Mix well. In another pan, saute chicken, adding cumin, paprika and broth until meat is cooked through and spices are well mixed. Do not drain. Add the chicken to the vegetable mixture, stirring well to combine. Stir in hot sauce and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer over medium-low heat about 1 hour. Serve with a crumbled blue cheese garnish and a celery stick. Makes 10 servings.
Katelyn's "Hot Stuff" Mushroom Vegetarian Chili
3 large Portobello mushrooms
1 onion, diced
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 yellow bell pepper, chopped
3 medium or 2 large carrots, chopped
2 jalapeno peppers, diced
1 (15-ounce) can of corn
2 tablespoons of cocoa powder
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 chopped chipotle pepper from a can of chipotle peppers in adobo
1 bottle of Modelo Negro (although any dark beer may be substituted)
2 (28-ounce) cans of crushed tomatoes
1 (8-ounce) can of black beans
1 (8-ounce) can of pinto beans
Juice of 1 lime
DIRECTIONS: Chop the portobello mushrooms into uniform 1/2-inch pieces. Heat 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil in a fry pan and add the mushrooms. Cook the mushrooms without stirring frequently until they are brown on all sides. When they are brown, add 2 teaspoons of salt. Refrain from adding the salt too early, as the mushrooms will just boil and not brown. While the mushrooms are cooking, heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large pot. Add the onions and garlic and allow them to cook until they begin to caramelize. Once they have begun to turn brown, add the green and yellow bell peppers, the carrots, and the jalapeno peppers. Allow the vegetables to cook until they start to soften. Add the caramelized mushrooms. The mushrooms will have reduced in size considerably. Add all the remaining spices, the cocoa powder, cumin, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, chipotle pepper and remaining salt. Stir to make sure all the vegetables are coated with the spice mixture. Add the bottle of beer and deglaze the bottom of the pan by scraping it while the beer bubbles. Add the 2 cans of tomatoes, both cans of beans and the can of corn. Stir to incorporate all the ingredients together. Allow the mixture to come to a boil and stir frequently. Once it has come to a boil, reduce the heat and allow to simmer for an hour, stirring regularly. Before serving, add the juice of one lime and mix throughout. Serve with corn chips. Makes 6 servings.