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Some Like It Hot: HCSS Holds a Company Wide Chili Cook-Off

August 28, 2014
 / HCSS / 

Chili_Cook_off_editLast Thursday was hot! And we don’t mean the blazing summer temps. Walking inside the HCSS building on August 21st, slow cookers were strategically placed along the ground and on tops of counters, anywhere an electrical outlet could be found. The aroma of bubbling meat and spices filled the air. This was the 2014 Uncomfortably Awesome HCSS Chili Cook-Off and Gramma’s secret recipe was bubbling for votes.

Employees were asked to sign up to participate and compete to win in three categories: Spiciest, Most Original Flavor and Best Tasting. The winner in each category took home a gift card.

The announcement came around 1:30pm that it was judging time and the company gathered in the large conference room with nine pots of hot and spicy love lined up, ready to be eaten and judged. Each pot came from an anonymous chef. Ingredients ranged from turkey and ground beef to stew meat and mango! Paired with sour cream, cheese and a side of cornbread, we stood around like food critics analyzing whether beans belong in chili or who was insane enough to try John Capello’s ghost pepper sauce. A few of us, myself included, dashed from the room in search of something to quell the fire raging in our mouths. Milk, Gatorade, get me something! Needless to say that recipe got my vote for “Spiciest”.Cook_off_edit

Everyone cast their votes on iPads using a simple Google Doc and we each returned to work, full as ticks. The results for the Uncomfortably Awesome Chili Cook off came in a few hours later and sure enough my vote for spiciest won (it was ridiculously spicy). Lars Mallach was the inferno king with Spiciest Chili, Christina Griffin won for Most Original Flavor and we had a tie for Best Overall going to Melissa Spence and Skyler Moss.

What were the secrets behind these chili winning recipes? For Skyler Moss it was his homegrown jalapenos and his Grandmother’s 100 year old Hill Country spices. Lars Mallach’s winner “Coming in Hot!!!” used three different meats, four different types of peppers, espresso, dark beer and a secret blend of spices. As the cook says “It grabs your face with both its meaty chilly hands and won’t let go.” Christina Griffin’s secret for Most Original Flavor was revealed when we learned she used Texas’ very own Dr.Pepper in her “Sweet Fire” chile. “Ultimately, I think the fresh mangos, chipotle peppers and Dr.Pepper gave my chili the sweet and spicy taste that made it stand out!” said Griffin. Her recipe is below but here’s the rules: no entering any chili cook-offs she’s competing in.

Christina’s Sweet Fire Chile Recipe

2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup diced carrots
1 red pepper, finely diced
1 fresh mango, diced
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 1/2 tablespoon minced garlic
3 pounds ground turkey
4 tablespoons corn flour (Masa)
3 tablespoons chili powder
1 1/2 tablespoon dried oregano
1 1/2 tablespoon cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 - 28 ounce cans crushed tomatoes
1 jar mango salsa
1 - 20 ounce bottle Dr. Pepper
1 - 12 ounce can chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, cut up

Heat up the olive oil in large sauce pan. Add the carrots, red pepper, onion and garlic and saute for 5 minutes. Set aside. 
In a separate pot, boil the ground turkey for about 10 minutes or until completely brown. Make sure to break apart the meat as it cooks. Drain the ground turkey, and then return it to pot.
Add the vegetables to the turkey, and then stir in the remainder of the ingredients.
Heat over medium heat until it is thoroughly heated through and the flavors blend together. If desired, continue to simmer at low heat.

With football season just weeks away get your pots ready and your spices in check! What’s your chili secrets?  

The HCSS Fast Track Running Team just won first place in the corporate division at the Epic Cache-Teton Relay Race. Click here to read about their race out West

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