The only way I can describe it is this: it’s the feeling of slipping a cotton sundress over mid-summer gilded skin, stomping into the soft leather of worn boots, toting along a tupper of your own home-cooked chili to offer up for judging along with the rest of the county’s best. It’s the smell of alfalfa and livestock when you step through the gates of the fair, the faint sizzle of gargantuan turkey legs for sale, the distant shrill screams of laughter from the fun-zone. It was only eleven thirty in the morning, but my nerves called for an obscenely large beer to calm them. Mike and I meandered through the livestock area, our pale ales already losing their chill in the simmer of the July morning. The days-old piglets were sure cute though, and they took my mind off the chili I had just spent 3 hours building. Yes building.
My parents showed up not long after we arrived, and we all walked in the direction of the Culinary Promenade, stopping occasionally at vendors that beckoned, selling overpriced wares. Oddly-dressed fairies on stilts, the saccharin scents of funnel cakes, booths proudly displaying “Beers of the World”, tutorials on how to make jam, and even free beef jerky samples were among the distractions that slowed us, but we finally made it to the judging stage. There sat heaps of tuppers offering what I could only imagine were the best chilis Orange County could muster. And mine was somewhere in there, better suited perhaps for amateur hour. Or so I thought.
This judging process…..I have to admit that I may have underestimated it. It dragged on and on, three men taking on the daunting task, assisted by fair officials. We decided to abandon the rest of the obviously crazy audience who wanted to sit there for three hours and watch strangers eat chili in silence. We toured the rest of the Culinary Promenade, saw what the wood-craft department had to offer (among other items, the most BEAUTIFUL hand crafted guitars), and drank more beer. My parents departed for another engagement, but my amazing sister-in-law and her father stayed to watch, and of course Mike.
Finally, FINALLY a fair official clicked on the mic and told us she was about to announce the winners. They started with the red chili, awarding tenth place first and working up to first. Next, the green chili………(only four entries!), and lastly, my category. A pretty white ribbon for tenth place was handed out, then ninth, eighth, and so on. The minute dragged on….they were given out second place? Oh no, I surely hadn’t won anything over these assumedly seasoned professionals…but wait…
“…and second place goes to NICOLE WEEGER”
I had no time to think! I jumped up, beaming ear-to-ear, and pranced onto the stage, shook the hands of the judges, and waved and posed, sloshing my beer. I won I won I won!! Okay, no I didn’t WIN, but whatever I won!
After a tour of the fair below, you will find my almost-a-winner Wyatt Earp White Chili recipe. I hope you enjoy!
Aren’t they strange? Talented with the stilts and all……………….but strange. That little girl was as perplexed as I was.
I saw these gigantic chili peppers that said “Freakin’ Hot” and BEGGED Mike to win one for me as it was very fitting of the occasion.
He didn’t win, though it was a valiant effort.
These ribbons are awfully purdy! Will I win?!
Wyatt Earp White Chili
4 cups white and dark meat of roasted chicken, pulled (shredded in large chunks)
(I had roasted a 5lb chicken the night before, with simple seasonings and stuffed with lemon wedges)
3 medium ears of corn, grilled
3 large jalapenos, grilled
4 green chiles, roasted and peeled
(A neighbor of my parents brings back roasted, peeled green chiles from New Mexico – these are what I used. If you care to take the time to roast your own, I recommend it. However, in all other times that I have made chili, I have used the La Victoria canned diced green chiles. And they are fantastic. I would say two small cans would do, more if you love the heat.)
2 (16 oz) cans white beans
1 (16 oz) can garbanzo beans
4 cups chicken broth or stock, home-made is best but canned will certainly do
2 tbsp butter
3 tbsp AP flour
1 small yellow onion
1 clove garlic
1-2 tbsp Cumin
4 tbsp ground ginger (more for more heat, and I suspect that fresh ginger might also be spectacular!)
1 tbsp Red pepper flakes
1 tbsp olive oil
THIS my friends, is the secret. You can find ground ginger in any stores that may carry ethnic spices, or just ask! This little packet ran me about eighty-nine cents, and took my chili heat to a whole new spectrum of depth!
First, finely dice your onion and shallot, and add them to a large stock pot over medium-low heat with the olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper. You want this to be a slow simmer, until it turns deep golden brown. While the base mixture is simmering away (keep an eye and stir often so that it doesn’t burn), go ahead and dice up the jalapenos and green chiles and set them aside in a bowl. Take your grilled corn off the cob as well and set in another bowl, and go ahead and rinse and drain your beans. This is kind of setting up your mis-en-place, so that everything is ready and waiting patiently for its entrance into the chili!
When the base mixture is dark golden, go ahead and add your beans, half of your chicken stock, butter, and flour to the pot. Stir until mixed through, and then add the chicken, jalapenos, chiles, second half of the chicken stock (add a bit of water if needed) and seasonings. Let this all simmer, stirring occasionally, over 30 minutes. I promise I have not forgotten the corn! For this chili I wanted the beans to be soft and buttery, the chicken to be juicy and tender, and the corn to stand out with a little toothsome crunch. So, I suggest adding the corn about 30 minutes before serving.
The total time of simmering for the chili I used in the cook-off was about one and a half hours. I would have preferred a little longer, in order for the flavors to REALLY develop, but lets be honest…I didn’t get up early enough.
Wyatt Earp White Chili makes approximately 6 servings (medium-sized bowls) and has a good kick to it. Each serving is approximately 550 calories, with a whopping 44 g protein and 40 g fiber!