The Great Chili Challenge commences next Saturday, Nov. 3, at the New Iberia City Park to benefit the Iberia Pregnancy Resource Center and Clinic. The event, not to be outdone by New Iberia’s plethora of other cook-offs, will have arts and crafts for sale, live music and fun for the kids: a rock wall, fun jumps, face painting and a giant hamster ball.

But what’s the point of this whole event? To eat chili, and the weather is just getting crisp enough this weekend for us to really appreciate the rustic decadence that a hearty bowl of chili can provide. The three categories are family-style, heart-healthy and hold-on-to-your-hat.

Now, not to brag, but I can cook a mean chili. I inherited this recipe when I moved into my first dwelling with a kitchen in college, and it never disappoints. I’ve cooked it for friends multiple times and they always sing its praises — and they’re not praising my cooking skills. The recipe does the work for you. Cook a pot and freeze half for easy meals in the months to come, or serve a group on a Sunday night.

Without further ado, the best chili recipe I have ever known.

Ingredients:
1 lb. of ground chuck
Large onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
Envelope of dry ranch dressing mix
Envelope of taco seasoning mix
Large can diced tomatoes
Can of Rotel tomatoes
Can of chili beans
2-3 cans of your choice of beans (we tend to go for black, pinto and kidney) drained and rinsed

Instructions:
Brown the ground meat in a thick pot, then add onions and garlic.  Add tomatoes with one large can of water and remaining ingredients.  Add more water as needed.  Simmer for at least one hour on low. Top with a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkling of shredded cheese and you have a full meal in a bowl.

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