On the 1st Saturday in November, Chiliheads from across the country and around the world descend upon Terlingua to participate in two very serious competitions to determine who is the World Champion Chili Cook, but throughout the year there are several smaller qualifying cookoffs, and this past weekend, one was held at the High Sierra Bar & Grill in the Terlingua Ghost Town, where almost 100 Chiliheads competed. Although Chili was king, there were also competitions for the best beans, best salsa, best rib-eye steak, and a rather well attended Drink Off for the best cocktail. As an on-duty paramedic, I was sadly unable to participate in the cocktail contest, but it looked like fun.
As I was wandering around observing the festivities, I was given a sample package of Terlingua Badlands Chili Seasoning – the seasoning mix sold by the 1st place winner at last year’s 50th annual Original Terlingua International Championship Chili Cookoff. Recipes are never divulged, but good old fashioned commerce is acceptable. Tonight, I decided to make up a batch of chili using that championship mix, and I have to say, it was pretty damn tasty. The flavors were nicely balanced with just the right touch of heat that generated a little sweat, but didn’t incinerate the taste buds. I’ve been a chili judge in years past and there’s a fine line between just the right amount of heat and pure pain. For next year, I’ll look forward to tasting the work of chili champions, but I’m thinking I might throw my hat in the ring on the cocktail challenge and see how my mixology talents stack up. I think I just might take that one.