Published 12:00 am Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Ground sausage, vegetables and three types of beans were used to make the chili that won the Catawba College’s men’s lacrosse team the People’s Choice award during the 3rd annual Chili Cook-off sponsored by the Ralph W. Ketner School of Business and Johnsonville Sausage.

Team leader Lincoln Anderson said the recipe came from his teammate Jacob Breig’s sister, but they added a few of their own special touches.

“We made it all the night before and we all tasted it and I was like ‘Dude, we need more meat in here,’” Anderson said. “We talked to a bunch of people on our team and decided to double the meat.”

Anderson said the decision ended up being a “game changer.”

“Having that extra meat allowed each person to taste every aspect of the chili without being overwhelmed by vegetables” he said.

Instead of handing out small cups of the chili for people to sample, Anderson insisted they try it atop a saltine.

“The chili is really awesome by itself, but if you taste it that way you really get the full flavor,” he said.

Anderson said the team decided to use one green, one yellow and one red pepper in the chili to not only give it flavor, but to add some color to the dish.

“We wanted it to look cool and taste great,” he said.

The chili has more of a hearty flavor, Anderson said.

“It’s smooth, meaty and it has a hint of spice at the end,” he said. “We used spices that were consistent with curry, so it was a little spicy, but it wasn’t overwhelming.”

Anderson said the chili is a bit different than the kind he’s had in the past.

“It’s more of a Northern chili because Jake is from Minnesota,” he said. “It had a very unique taste.”

The team ended up with 47 votes in the People’s Choice category, making it the general public’s favorite chili.

“The next team behind us had about 25 votes, so we basically dominated,” Anderson said. “We’re glad people enjoyed the chili.”

Unique is the best way to describe Teresa Rowell’s chili. She represented Salisbury Academy in the competition and won first place in the community division, beating out the men’s lacrosse team and Cooper’s, The Gathering Place in the contest, which was decided by judges.

Rowell adapted a recipe for chili with chipotle and chocolate from “Cooking Light.”

“I was sort of looking for recipes that would stand out, but not be so weird that I couldn’t actually pull it off,” she said. “This was a good stretch.”

Instead of using the ground turkey that the recipe called for, Rowell opted a “cheap cut of roast.”

“You ended up cooking it for so long that the cheapest, weirdest cut of beef is fine,” she said. “I usually use whatever I find on sale.”

The recipe included 4 ounces of dark chocolate, an ingredient she’s never used in chili before.

“I almost always put cumin and cinnamon in my chili, but never dark chocolate,” Rowel said. “It didn’t’ taste sweet at all, it just added a good amount of depth.”

Rowell said she recommends caramelizing the onions before dropping them into the pot.

“It gives them a nice flavor and creates a deeper base,” she said.

The chipotle chiles, canned in adobo sauce, makes the chili “smoky with a subtle heat,” said Rowell.

“It’s not so hot it blows your hair back,” she said. “I really liked it.”

Rowell said it’s a good idea to toast the spices by putting them in the pot and stirring them often to keep them from burning.

“That’s an important step,” she said.

Rowell dropped in her beans and bell peppers at the end.

“If you add them early on, they just cook down,” she said.

When Rowell was finished with the chili, she decided to add in one more thing — cinnamon.

“I threw in a teaspoon of cinnamon,” she said. “I consider that my secret ingredient because I almost always use a cinnamon stick when I cook chili.”

Rowell said the end result was a Hispanic tasting chili that had the consistency of a stew.

Both Rowell and Anderson suggest cooking the chili at least a day before you want to eat it so that the flavors can settle overnight.

“They seem to meld a little better that way,” Rowell said.

Contact reporter Sarah Campbell at 704-797-7683.