ROSAMOND, Calif. — For the fifth time in 21 years, a woman took top honors at the annual World's Championship Chili Cookoff held Sunday at Tropico Gold Mine. Using a family recipe that she had adapted through the years, Margo Knudson of Loomis, Calif., won the $25,000 first prize presented by Tecate beer, beating out 80 other finalists from across the United States, Canada, Mexico, Australia, England and West Germany.
Knudson won the right to compete in the finals by first winning the High Sierra cookoff earlier this year. She said her winning "bowl of red" was based on a recipe developed by her father who, she said, "was an old-time chef."
Second place and $2,500 went to another Californian, Richard Rutherford of Palmdale, and Robert Grayson of Carson City, Nev., won the $1,500 third prize.
Those who make it to the championship cookoff are winners of state, regional or international cookoffs held earlier in the year. The World's Championship Chili Cookoff is sponsored each year by the International Chili Society, headquartered in Newport Beach, Calif. The chili group sanctions more than 300 preliminary cookoffs throughout the year, which raise close to $1 million annually for various charities.
Here is Knudson's winning recipe.
2 medium onions, finely chopped
5 to 7 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons kidney suet or oil
1/2 (3-ounce) bottle blended chili powder
1/2 ounce dark (regular) chili powder
3 pounds finely cubed or coarsely ground prime beef
1 cup beef broth
3 ounces bulk sausage
1 medium whole canned green chile, seeds removed and minced
1/2 teaspoon hot New Mexico chili powder
3 tablespoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander, optional
4 to 6 ounces tomato sauce
Dash hot pepper sauce
Saute onions and garlic in fat in large Dutch oven or heavy saucepan about 3 minutes. Stir in blended and dark chili powders, mixing well. Cook beef in separate skillet, 1 pound at time, just until meat loses its pink color. Add small amount of extra oil if necessary. Add meat to onions with enough beef broth to keep mixture from sticking. Season to taste with white pepper.
In skillet, saute sausage and green chile together for about 2 minutes. Add to onion-beef mixture with New Mexico chili powder, mixing well. Let cook over medium heat about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add remaining broth, cumin, coriander, tomato sauce and enough water to keep mixture from sticking to pan. Add Oregano Tea. Cook, covered, about 2 hours, or until meat is tender, stirring occasionally and adding more beef broth or water if needed. About 20 minutes before chili is done, season to taste with salt, cayenne and hot pepper sauce, if desired. Makes 8 to 10 servings.
1 tablespoon dried oregano leaves
1/2 cup hot water
Stir oregano into hot water and let steep about 15 minutes. Strain, discard leaves and add tea only to chili.