Silly Chili Triathlon 2012

Triathlon first leg:  10 starters
Saturday 10 November 2012

The Silly Chili Triathlon has traditionally been held on 11 November, which in British Columbia is a the statutory Remembrance Day holiday.  Since the holiday was on the 12th, we figured Saturday would be the better day this year.  As it turns out, the weather was perfect for a little brisk outdoor exercise before the eating part of this triathlon began.

Several folks took advantage of the sunshine to either run or hike Mosquito Creek.  It was crisp enough out to make one think twice about wearing shorts.  Many wore gloves.  The skies were a stunningly clear blue and trails were covered with leaves.  Participants came from as far away as Boston.  Thanks to Marc and his kids, there was a boisterous cheering section this year.

Attendance was a bit thin for the swim leg with only Teagirl, Reagan and Issac duking it out in the hot tub.

Wall plugs were in short supply as participants arrived, crockpots under their arms, for leg 3 of the triathlon.  Nine esteemed chefs toed the line in the chili cookoff and several others contributed appies, salads and deserts.  After a brief speech, everyone grabbed a bowl, a spoon, a pen and a scorecard and formed a conga line around the burnt spot in the middle of the lineoleum floor.  

First to complete a lap was Johanna, who had a bowl of her own entry, scored herself a 10, then headed for the desserts.  Those new to judging a chili cookoff started with partially full bowls, but soon found themselves either unwilling or unable to make their way through all of the entries.  Experienced judges or those who took only a couple of spoonfuls of each entry, managed 2-3 tours of the kitchen before getting to the hard work of ranking their picks.

As in previous years, there was much discussion about the most democratic way to judge the entries.  Allan and Jackson determined that a modified first-past-the-post approach would be used, so the top-scoring chili on each scorecard was selected and the winner would be the chili with the most top scores.  What if a judge granted several chilis the coveted ranking of 10?  We'd count for a half.  (Note for next year... either ask everyone to pick their absolute favorite or hire an outside accounting firm!)

Congrats to Reagan who got the most top scores for "That's Nacho!"  This is the second year that Reagan's entry has received accolades.  Given he was the only participant who was actually born and raised in Texas, it causes one to wonder if he has chili in his blood?  

Katia and John's "Mister Mole's" and Trish and Allan's "Haggis Chili" were tied for first runner-up.

A great big "Thank you!" to everyone who contributed to a wonderful evening of culinary delights.  We hope to see you back again next year.  ( Sign-up now at:  http://clubfatass.com/events/flash-silly-chili-triathlon/2013 )  

Until then, think about whether a winning chili chef is born or made! 

Ean Jackson and Sibylle Tinsel
Co-Hosts of the Silly Chili Triathlon

First Name Last Name City Leg 1- Run Leg 2- Swim Chili Chile/Food Name
Reagan White Vancouver   X X Chili Winner - That's Nacho Chili!
Isaac W     X
Allan McMordie North Vancouver     x Second Place - Chili -Haggis Chili and Apple Crumble
Trish McMordie      
John Spooner Vancouver     X Second Place - Mister Mole's Windy Willow Chili
Ekaterina Sytcheva Vancouver 1 lap  
Johanna J       x J & A's Just Chillin Chili
Aiden P      
Karl Jensen North Vancouver     X Chili - Artsy Fartsy Chili and Apple Crumble
Katie Longworth North Vancouver Walk X X Head-Smashed-In-Buffalo-Chili and Cornbread
Brendan McAleer      
Ean Jackson   1.5 laps + custom   X Scorched Floor All Texan Chili
Steven Threndyle North Vancouver     X Chili
Sibylle Tinsel North Vancouver 2 laps   X Spice is Nice
Patricia and Hannah Jensen north Vancouver       Salad and Corn Bread
David Jensen      
Hannah Jensen      
Paul Cubbon North Vancouver 1.5 laps + custom     Mini Cheesecakes
Joan Cubbon      
John Machray North Vancouver       Brownies
Eileen Bistrisky Vancouver        
Jan Altmann          
Wendy Montgomery north vancouver        
Tom Longworth   Walk      
The Longworth' Uncles and Aunts     Walk      
Erin Easingwood Vancouver       DNS
Julia Crombach Coquitlam       DNS




Ean Jackson's picture

Mister Mole's Windy Willow Chili


  • Vegetable oil
  • 3 pound(s) boneless beef chuck, trimmed and cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 4-5 slices lean, smoky bacon, chopped
  • 2 medium onions, diced
  • 4-5 roma tomatoes, diced
  • 6 cloves garlic, crushed with press
  • 1- 3 fresh habanero (or hot) chilies, stemmed de-seeded, minced. Or red chile powder to taste
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 Tbsp ground coriander
  • 1 Tbsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 Tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 ounce(s) unsweetened chocolate, chopped; or 2 Tbsp cocoa powder
  • Optional: 2-14 oz cans pink/black/red beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can (28 ounces) diced fire-roasted tomatoes
  • Beef broth or water - if needed
  • Juice of one lime
  • Sharp cheddar, sour cream, green onions, cilantro, etc - for garnish



1.  Pat beef dry with paper towels. In 6- to 8-quart Dutch oven or large pot, heat oil over medium-high heat until very hot but not smoking. Add meat in 3 batches and cook 5 to 6 minutes per batch or until well browned on all sides, adding more oil if necessary, and transferring meat with slotted spoon to medium bowl as it browns. You may need to reduce heat to medium if oil in Dutch oven begins to smoke.

2.  Reduce heat to medium. To drippings in Dutch oven, add bacon, onions, diced tomatoes, garlic, chiles and salt. Cook 5-10 minutes or until onion is tender, stirring frequently. Add oregano, coriander, cumin, cinnamon. and chocolate or cocoa. Cook 2-3 minutes more. (Spices are always better fresh, and if you can use whole spices and grind them as needed your recipes will turn out better. Inexpensive blade-type coffee grinders are ideal for this.)

3.  Return meat with its juices to the pot; stir in beans if desired and canned tomatoes with their juice. Heat to boiling over high heat, stirring until browned bits are loosened from bottom of Dutch oven. Add lime juice and stir thoroughly. Add some beef broth or water to taste if mixture seems too dry.

4.  Transfer to crock pot pre-heated to 'high' or cover pot and lower heat to simmer. Cook chili 1 to 1.5 hours or until meat is fork-tender. Adjust salt and red pepper if needed. Serve in bowls with garnishes, corn bread or warm tortillas if desired.


Notes: Be extremely cautious with, and never handle fresh chili peppers without using single-use disposable gloves. Capsaicin burns are painful and lingering.

Ean Jackson's picture

Scorched Floor All Texan Chili


This classic Texas-style chili doesn't include beans or tomatoes... just beef and some spices. 

Some history.  I lived in Dallas and Houston for a while during graduate school.  My Texan friends had strong feelings about their chili.  I was often scolded for even thinking that a chili could contain beans or even ground meat, so I adopted their ways.

More history.  For something to keep sane during the long, rainy November days while keeping my memories of Texas alive, I co-host a small chili cook-off on the Remembrance Day weekend.  The Silly Chili Triathlon and Chili Cook-off requires that each entrant give a name to their chef d'oeuvre.   I was at a bit of a loss for a name.  While preparing my entry, the oil caught fire.  As the flames burned the hair off my arm, I put the red-hot cast iron pot on the linoleum floor.  This did not bode well for the floor, but did provide me with a name for my chili.


  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin seed
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt or Kosher salt.  (I even threw in a bit of soya sauce)
  • 5 tablespoons vegetable oil, or rendered beef suet
  • 2 1/2 pounds boneless beef chuck, well trimmed and cut into 3/4-inch cubes (to yield 2 pounds after trimming)
  • 3 tablespoons oregano
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped onion
  • 3 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups beef stock / canned low-sodium beef broth, plus more as needed
  • 2 tablespoons masa harina (corn tortilla flour) or corn meal
  • 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar, plus more as needed
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar, plus more as needed
  • 2 ounces dried, whole New Mexico (California), guajillo, or pasilla chiles, or a combination (6 to 8 chiles)
  • Fresh cilantro
  • Sour cream
  • Lime wedges


Cooking Instructions

1. Place the chiles in a straight-sided large skillet over medium-low heat and gently toast the chiles until fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Don't let them burn or they'll turn bitter. Place the chiles in a bowl and cover them with very hot water and soak until soft, 15 to 45 minutes, turning once or twice.

2. Drain the chiles; split them and remove stems and seeds (a brief rinse helps remove seeds, but don't wash away the flesh). Place the chiles in the bowl of a blender and add the cumin, black pepper, 1 tablespoon salt and 1/4 cup water. Purée the mixture, adding more water as needed (and occasionally scraping down the sides of the blender jar), until a smooth, slightly fluid paste forms (you want to eliminate all but the tiniest bits of skin.) Set the chile paste aside.

3. Return skillet to medium-high heat and melt 2 tablespoons of oil. When it begins to smoke, swirl skillet to coat and add half of the beef. Lightly brown on at least two sides, about 3 minutes per side, reducing the heat if the meat threatens to burn. Transfer to a bowl and repeat with 2 more tablespoons of lard/oil and the remaining beef.  Don't let the oil catch on fire and burn your floor like I did!

4. Let the skillet cool slightly, and place it over medium-low heat. Melt the remaining 1 tablespoon of lard in the skillet; add the onion and garlic and cook gently for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the stock, the remaining 2 cups water and gradually whisk in the masa harina to avoid lumps. Stir in the reserved chile paste, scraping the bottom of the skillet with a spatula to loosen any browned bits. Add the reserved beef (and any juices in the bowl) and bring to a simmer over high heat. Reduce heat to maintain the barest possible simmer (just a few bubbles breaking the surface) and cook, stirring occasionally, until the meat is tender but still somewhat firm and 1 1/2 to 2 cups of thickened but still liquid sauce surrounds the cubes of meat, about 2 hours.

5. Stir in the brown sugar and vinegar thoroughly and add more salt to taste; gently simmer 10 minutes more. At this point, it may look like there is excess sauce. Turn off the heat and let the chili stand for at least 30 minutes, during which time the meat will absorb about half of the remaining sauce in the skillet, leaving the meat bathed in a thick, somewhat fluid sauce. Stir in additional broth or water if the mixture seems too dry. If the mixture seems a bit loose and wet, allow it to simmer a bit more (sometimes we like to partially crush the cubes of beef with the back of a spoon to let them absorb more sauce). Adjust the balance of flavors with a bit of additional salt, sugar, or vinegar, if you like.

6. Reheat gently and servewith a dollop of sour cream on top and a lime wedge on the side.


Ean Jackson's picture

That's Nacho Chili Recipe

This was adapted from the Bon Appetit recipe listed here http://www.bonappetit.com/recipes/2008/10/texas_beef_brisket_chili - we simplified the recipe slightly to  make it milder and give it a twist, and the steps below reflect how we made it:


  • 6 ounces bacon, diced
  • 1 1/4 pounds onions, chopped (about 4 cups)
  • 1 5-pound flat-cut (also called first-cut) beef brisket, cut into 2 1/2- to 3-inch cubes
  • 6 large garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • Coarse kosher salt, and ground pepper to coat meat and to season chili to taste afterwards
  • 1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 1 12-ounce bottle beer (we used a belgian-style beer called PranQster (more info http://www.northcoastbrewing.com/beer-Pranqster.htm)
  • 1 7-ounce can green chiles from El Paso, Texas
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro stems
  • 4 cups 1 1/2- to 2-inch chunks seeded peeled butternut squash (from 3 1/2-pound squash)
  • 1 7oz can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce 



  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Sauté bacon in heavy large ovenproof pot over medium-high heat until beginning to brown. Add onions. Reduce heat to medium; cover and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle beef all over with coarse salt and pepper. Add to pot; stir to coat. Set aside.
  • Place 1 or 2 chipotle peppers, along with a 1-2 teaspoonfuls of the adobo sauce into blender. Add 1 cup water, garlic, cumin powder, oregano, coriander, a teaspoon of honey (optional); blend to puree, adding more water by 1/4 cupfuls if very thick. Pour puree over brisket in pot. Add tomatoes with juices, beer, green chiles, and cilantro stems. Stir to coat evenly.
  • Bring chili to simmer. Cover and place in oven. Cook 2 hours. Uncover and cook until beef is almost tender, about 1 hour. Add squash; stir to coat. Roast uncovered until beef and squash are tender, adding more water if needed to keep meat covered, about 45 minutes longer. Season chili to taste with salt and pepper. Tilt pot and spoon off any fat from surface of sauce. Cool 1 hour. 


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