Ask a Cherokee County chili celebrity to share the recipe, and the reply is likely to be tight lips, a scowl, or a “you gotta be kidding” laugh - though many are happy to share advice or name certain ingredients.
While entrants to the Red Fern Festival can keep their secrets, winners of the annual World Champion Chili Cook-Off must spill the chili beans. They are each consoled with $25,000.
Listed below is the verbatim recipe submitted by the 2011 winner, John Jepson of Merced, Calif. The recipe serves 6-8 people.
3 pounds lean tri-tip, cut in 1/2-inch cubes, rinsed
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 cup beef broth
2 1/2 tablespoons hot New Mexico chili powder, divided use (see cook’s notes)
2 chicken bouillon cubes
6 ounces tomato sauce, divided use
3 tablespoons medium-hot New Mexico chili powder
4 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 1/2 tablespoons onion powder
2 teaspoons salt, divided use
3 tablespoons mild California chili powder
1 tablespoon cumin
2 teaspoons cornstarch
Cayenne, to taste
Brown the beef: Set Dutch oven or other heavy-bottomed pan on medium-high heat and sear the tri-tip until light gray.
Stew the beef: Add to the pot the 1 1/2 cups chicken broth, 1 cup beef broth, 2 tablespoons hot New Mexico chili powder, two chicken bouillon cubes and 4 ounces tomato sauce and bring to a full simmer. Reduce heat and let cook for two hours or until meat is tender.
Season, continue simmering: Add to the pot 3 tablespoons medium-hot New Mexico chili powder, 4 tablespoons chili powder, 1 tablespoon garlic powder, 1 1/2 tablespoons onion powder, 1 teaspoon salt and 2 ounces tomato sauce. Simmer on low for 30 minutes.
Adjust the seasonings: Now add to the pot 3 tablespoons mild California chili powder, 1/2 tablespoon hot New Mexico chili powder, 1 tablespoon cumin, 2 teaspoons cornstarch and 1 teaspoon salt. Continue to simmer on low heat for 30 minutes.
Presentation: Adjust to taste with cumin, salt and cayenne. Adjust thickness with chicken broth.