It's Hot, Hot, Hot

It's Hot, Hot, Hot

Chili Cook-Off is this weekend.

September in Alexandria means its time for the annual Hard Times Chili Cook-off.

This year’s event will be held on Saturday, Sept. 27, at Oronoco Bay Park. All proceeds will benefit the National Kidney Foundation. The public will be admitted starting at 11 a.m.

“But, I should tell everyone that samples of the competition chili won’t be available until 1 p.m. for the free-style competition and 2 p.m. for the Chili Appreciation Society International and the International Chili Society competitions,” said Jim Parker, who, along with his brother, Fred, owns Hard Times.

“Now, some of the chefs will bring extra chili to hand out to the crowd for a 25 or 50-cent donation because they are interested in winning the People’s Choice award that is given for the cook who collects the most money. Otherwise, depending on the crowd, we may run out of chili samples.”

While Hard Times serves a variety of chilies, competition chili is in a class of its own. “Competition chili is Texas-style chili,” Jim Parker explained. “Texas-style chili has meat, spices and a thick gravy. You can’t use beans or any other kind of filler or your chili is disqualified.”

Jim Parker began competing in chili cookoffs in the 1980s after the Parker brothers opened Hard Times. “I just watched the chili cooks at the competitions and they seemed to be having a lot of fun and were really nice people,” Jim Parker said.

He has done well in many competitions and the Tralingua Red chili that is served at Hard Times is a variation of his competition chili. “When I am in a competition, I spend hours cutting my meat into perfect cubes,” he said. “Over the years, I have found just the right spices and peppers that, hopefully, other cooks haven’t discovered yet.”

FIFTY COOKS are signed up to compete in this weekend’s chili cookoff but Jim Parker is not among them. “My wife, Monica, is going to compete and there are going to be some other international champions there as well,” he said.

While most people aren’t ready to compete in a chili cookoff, try one of these championship recipes at home. They can be found on the ICS and CASI web sites. Just go to the Hard Times site at and click on chili links.

Warning Shot Chili - Runs for Your Life —

World Champion 2002

Source: Ron Burt

Submitted By:

(Note: “Tradewinds” is a brand name sold at Smart & Final)


1 tsp. “Tradewinds”* ground Cayenne pepper

1 Tbls “Tradewinds”* MSG

5 Tbls “Tradewinds”* ground Cumin

2 Tbls ground Chimayo chile powder

2 Tbls ground Pasilla chile powder

2 Tbls New Mexico Hot chile powder

6 Tbls "Tradewinds" California Chili Powder

5 tsp. “Tradewinds”* granulated garlic

5 tsp “Tradewinds”* granulated onion

3 tsp. “Smart & Final” non-iodized salt

1/4 tsp. Ground chile piquin powder

4 cans chicken broth

2 Tbls cider vinegar

2 sweet onions, minced

8 Tbls garlic, pureed

5 lbs. cubed “Smart & Final” tri-tip beef

2 8-oz. cans “El Pato” brand Mexican tomato sauce (yellow can)

2 oz. “Smart & Final” pork tenderloin

4 oz. “Jimmy Dean” hot sausage

2 small cans “Ortega” fire-roasted green chiles (3 per can), seeded and minced

2 tsp. Tabasco sauce (traditional flavor)


Measure dry ingredients prior to day of cookoff, keep in refrigerator or freezer. This is the “set-up.”

* On cooking day:

Preparation prior to cooking: Place onion, garlic, and two minced green chiles in a blender with a small amount of chicken broth; puree, pour into chili pot. Pour “El Pato” Mexican tomato sauce in pot with pork tenderloin. Add one can of chicken broth to blender and the entire “set-up,” reserving 2 TBSP of set-up mixture. Blend broth and set-up. Pour one-third of broth/set-up mixture into chili pot.

* Hour #1:

Boil ingredients in chili pot, keeping temperature between 180-200 degrees. Meanwhile, in a frying pan, sautee’ the cubed tri-tip until no longer pink; strain, reserving juices; set aside. Sautee’ the “Jimmy Dean” hot sausage. Place sausage in a “bouquet garni” bag, place bag in the chili pot, and allow sausage bag to float in chili pot. Watch pot and add broth as needed.

* Hour #2:

Add half of remaining broth/set-up mixture into chili pot. Add two minced green chiles. Add broth as necessary. Take reserved meat juices and run through a coffee filter. Add strained meat juices to chili pot. 30 minutes after Hour #2, add sauteed’ meat to chili pot. Add broth as necessary.

* Hour #3:

Remove pork tenderloin and bouquet garni bag; discard. Add half of remaining broth/set-up mixture into chili pot. Continue to boil, watching consistency. 30 minutes into cooking time (30 minutes before conclusion of cooking) add all remaining ingredients, including Tabasco. Blend well. Adjust salt to taste.