Bigger isn’t always better. This was certainly the case for Roca Caliente at the annual Atenas Charity Chili Cook-Off 2014!
It’s true; our chili flopped, but we’re still on top. Time to hang up the pot?
We decided to make six gallons this year. Last year we had five and still we ran out. We bought more meat, brought out more burners, invited more choppers, and by the end of the cooking day, we were pleased with our efforts and felt prepared for the throngs.
We removed shelves from our fridge so we could get the, not one, but TWO huge pots of superb chili in for the night. Honestly, it was pretty darn good; ask the few friends that stopped by for samples.
Come Sunday morning we dragged the big chicharrone pot down from the top shelf, cleaned it up, schlepped it to the little red car, and off to Romavista we went. Our plan was to fill it to the brim with chili. What a visual – bigger and better than last year, right?
It did occur to me that the pot was pretty heavy empty. It did NOT occur to me that once we dumped BOTH pots of chili in it would be much, much heavier! Too heavy for the plastic folding table it sat on. Duh!
Within an hour of firing up our propane burner, the metal legs of the portable burner burned through the sturdy plastic table top. The pot tipped, chili ran our onto the table, and people ran to the rescue grabbing the hot handles before it completely dumped and crashed.
Plus, there was something wrong with the chili! After heating, it turned into a bubbling cauldron of liquid. I had saved a smaller pot to submit to the judges, and it was fine. The rest started smelling horrible. I took a good look; whoa! She’s gonna blow!
Oy veh!! Call the bomberos! Let’s get this stuff outta here. A couple of strong men carried it outside and out of harm’s way. Now what?
In a case like this, there’s only one thing to do. Dump it down the hill, hope the iguanas and ants enjoy it, and start partying.
From now on, I will leave the chili cooking to the professionals. One of the other contestants, a professional chef, taught me a valuable lesson: store hot chili in small batches. Because we placed a huge quantity in the refrigerator, it never had a chance to cool. It was still warm in the morning. I would have been better off just leaving it on the stove all night, but that wouldn’t be good either. I also have my doubts about the aluminum pot. I know, I know – I’ll use it as an ice bucket for wine. Yeah, that’s it! Fill it will ice and put chardonnay in it.
After clearing off our table, I walked out of the building, stood alone looking at the lively scene below and the band started playing. It was perfect! I sang along: “All the leaves are brown, and the sky is gray…” In my head, I was belting it out. My friend, Lynn, and I have been practicing this very song for over a year. She says I’m flat, and I sing all the parts instead of holding the note for harmony. I keep telling her I can sing; after all, I starred in the school play, Gypsy, at Hauppauge High. My main number was “Let Me Entertain You!”.
She says I carried it off on personality, not my vocal chords. She’s probably right.
For better or for worse, I hope you are entertained.