There is no other way to say it, but I love Chili. There is also no other way to say it, but it can be an airy and bloated experience as well. But I braved that reality and accepted the responsibility of being one of the judges in the 26th Annual Canadian Festival of Chili & BBQ out in Langley at the Cascades Casino (parking lot). With over 30 participants, I was going to need some Pepto or some alone time on the porcelain throne (TMI?).
We were there to judge CASI (Chili Appreciation Society International) Chili which can only be Texas-style chili. They don't mess around here because this type of chili must adhere to strict guidelines (no beans or any other material other than ground or cubed meat). So with scoring card ready, some palate cleansers (carrots and celery) and a whole lot of spoons, we set forth to try 16 different Texas-style chilis. We were given specific criteria to look for in a good chili such as smell, consistency, texture, taste and finish. Hey, they don't mess around!
Essentially, there were 2 versions of the Texas-style Chili - ground and cubed. The ground meat type is the one most people associate with chili and as simple as it may seem, getting the texture right is important. I found that most of them were quite moist with a good meat chew. Some were spicier than others while some were more mild, yet still flavourful from the addition of more cumin. As for the cubed type, depending on the size of the cut, it was almost like a stew. Naturally, this version would offer up some more meat texture and more chew as well.
After 16 samples, most of us braved the Home-Style Chili cook off where there were no rules. Hence, there were a host of ingredients including corn, chickpeas, mushroom and of course various beans. Some were quite interesting and stretched the definition of chili. I found the several versions of chili verde a nice departure from the usual. I personally like spicy food and found that some were too mild for my tastes. But then again, my stomach would probably disagree vehemently. At the end, we had sampled 18 of these home-style chilis.
Don't worry if you missed the chili competition because on June 23rd, 2013 (that's today), the BC BBQ Championship runs from 11:00am to 2:00pm with pork butt, brisket, chicken and ribs competing in order on the hour. So what are you waiting for? Make your way down to Cascades Casino in Langley for some Sunday meat action!