It was a perfect day for chili this year at the South Fayette Chili cookoff.  I needed something spicy to keep me warm!  The sun only broke through the clouds for a few minutes the whole day and the large and enthusiastic crown of chili lovers shivered from one booth to the next.  There were over 20 different kinds of chili represented in restaurant, business, non-profit and individual categories.  Part of the fun is how the chili and cooking teams are named.  Rick Hanzlik and the the Amigos served up “Blazing Saddles” and “Chicken Dance” chili.  the folks from Bethany Presbyterian also had two entries – “Fire” and “Brimstone.”  Very funny.  There was everything from chicken and vegetarian, pork and beef to elk!  But with all that, there were only one or two that had the pepper power to raise a sweat.  I guess they were producing for the masses.  It was all for the good cause of the Bridgeville Rotary and the work they do in the community.  This is one of those home grown, community events, that make living in Pittsburgh so wonderful.  It’s a piece of Americana that I am happy to support whenever I can.  Here are some pictures I took of the various chili teams.  Cactus StingThree Amigos TeamLaBella Bean was All Fired UpChili KnightsSteve Lash was cookin' with JackBean Team

It made me want to go home and make chili.  I think I’ll head down to Reyna’s in the Strip to get some of those beautiful dried peppers. they keep them in bright little galvanized pails in the back of the store.  I put them in the pot and let them soften with time.  Then I take them out and process them with a little of the chili liquid until they form a paste.  That goes back in the chili for a deep rich pepper flavor.  It also gives a nice creamy texture to the sauce.  It beasts the heck out of chili powder, which is just a mixture of powdered chilis, oregano, cumin and garlic.  Some of it has been in the jar so long that it makes for a flat tasting chili.  If you’re going to go through all that time and trouble, you want a batch you can be proud of.  Hot stuff!