'Four Little Pigs' blow the house down with a super bowl of chili
Using a grandmother's favorite recipe and all locally grown ingredients, the Four Little PIGS (Pork in Green Sauce) from the Suisun Valley 4-H Club swept the five-team competition at the Solano County 4-H Chili Cook-Off. The event took place at the Solano County 4-H Project Skills Day in the Community Presbyterian Church, Vallejo.
The quartet — Spencer Merodio, 10, Alexis Taliaferro, 11, Natalie Frenkel, 12, and Kate Frenkel, 10 — drew a round of applause as they appeared on stage to accept the award, movie tickets to the Brenden Theatre. It was their first time entering the annual competition.
The Suisun Valley 4-H'ers opted for Spencer's grandmother's recipe, “Chili Verde, aka Pork in Green Sauce,” using cubed pork shoulder, tomatillos, jalapeno peppers, cilantro, garlic cloves and black beans. The condiments: sour cream, cilantro and diced radishes.
“We made it from scratch with vegetables purchased from Larry's Produce in Suisun Valley,” they told the evaluators, Solano County Supervisor Linda Seifert of District 2 and James Luka and his son, Jim, of Vallejo. “Nothing from a can.”
Competition proved keen, as all the dishes were delicious, the evaluators said.
“I could eat any of the five chilis any day of the week,” said James Luka, a retired network administrator for the U.S. and Europe stock market in Illinois.
Son Jim, a maintenance worker at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom in Vallejo, agreed. “They all did an amazing job.”
The evaluators praised the flavor and texture of the champion chili, but also the enthusiasm of the presenters and their eagerness to share the recipe and answer questions.
For the occasion, the youths wore special pig costumes. They decorated their long-sleeved pink T-shirts with pig drawings and lettering on both the front and the back. An added touch: little chef hats, complete with pink pig ears.
The members of the championship team are enrolled in their club's food and nutrition project and other projects, including Science, Engineering and Technology (SET) and outdoor adventures.
“They're all close friends and competitive swimmers,” said Spencer's mother, Heather. They swim competitively with SASO of Fairfield-Suisun, which holds practices at Solano Community College.
The other teams competing were:
Chili Peeps of Suisun Valley 4-H Club (Irma Brown, Arianna Henriquez, Enrique Henriquez and Clairese Wright) who made “Chipotle Chicken Chili”
The Chilibaccas of Dixon Ridge 4-H Club (Brayden Gish, Shayley Gish and Maya Prunty) who made “2/2/2 Chili”
Los Verdes of Pleasants Valley 4-H Club, Vacaville (Coleman Ivie, Jaxson Ivie, Kyndal Kelly and Justin Means) who made “Los Verdes Chili”
ExtraVEGANza of the Sherwood Forest 4-H Club, Vallejo (Jarred Burkett, Halle Newell, Megan Torres and Julietta Wynholds) who made “Mama B's Vegan Chili.”
Valerie Williams serves as the Solano County 4-H Youth Development Program representative. Some 500 members are enrolled in Solano County 4-H. For more information on the 4-H program, contact Williams at email@example.com or access the web site at http://cesolano.ucanr.edu/
10 fresh tomatillos (firm, medium sized)
4 jalapeño peppers
2 bunches of cilantro (about 2 cups)
Small garlic clove, peeled
Salt and pepper to taste
6 pounds pork shoulder cubed
Salt and pepper to taste
2 yellow onions
Garlic to taste
Peel and rinse tomatillos. Add tomatillos and jalapeños to sauce pan and cover with water. Bring to a rolling boil and watch for tomatillos to change color. Add garlic and cilantro to a blender followed by tomatillos and peppers from boiling water, reserving water. Blend with up to 1/2 to 3/4 cup water from pan depending on the consistency desired. Set sauce aside. Season cubed pork generously with salt and pepper. Sear meat over high heat and par cook. Sauté onions and garlic until golden and caramelized. Add sauce to pan and scrape pan bottom to release cooked ingredients. Stir in onions, garlic and pork. Simmer for two hours and serve with minced onions, radishes, and cilantro on top, and a warm tortilla as desired.
Crema (sour cream)
Chipotle Chicken Chili
By the Chili Peeps
Suisun Valley 4-H Club
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 whole onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into a small dice
1 bottle (12-ounce bottle) Good Beer
1 can (14-ounce size) diced tomatoes
1 whole chipotle pepper in Adobo sauce, minced (more can be added, up to 3)
1 can (14-ounce size) pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 can (14-ounce size) black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can (14-ounce size) kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt, more to taste
1/4 cup masa harina
1 lime, juiced
Condiments, for serving
Grated sharp cheddar cheese
Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat then add the onions and garlic. Cook for a few minutes until onions soften. Add the chicken and cook until lightly browned. Add 3/4 of the beer, reserving the rest, then cook for a couple of minutes to reduce.
Add the tomatoes, chipotles, beans, chili powder, cumin and salt. Stir to combine, then cover the pot and cook for 1 hour.
Combine the masa harina with the rest of the beer and stir to make a paste. Add this into the chili, along with the lime juice. Stir and cook for 10 more minutes or until thick.
Serve with sour cream, cheese, cilantro, and another squeeze of lime!
The Chilibaccas Recipe
Dixon Ridge 4-H Club
2 pounds pork shoulder cut in 1/2-inch chunks
2 pounds ground beef
Olive oil (as needed to brown meat)
2 cans of tomatoes (chopped or diced work best)
2 cans of beans (1 kidney and 1 pinto), drained
2 Pasilla peppers
2 Serrano peppers
2 Anaheim peppers
2 green bell peppers
2 cloves garlic
Water (approximately 1 cup)
Seasonings to taste:
In a large stock pot, brown pork in the olive oil. Add in the ground beef and continue cooking over high heat until beef is browned (about 30 minutes). Add the water and seasonings. Cook an additional 30 minutes. Add tomatoes and beans. Turn down the heat and simmer for 30 minutes. While mixture is simmering, coarsely chop onions and peppers and finely chop garlic. Add these to the pot and continue cooking until pork is tender ( about another 30-45 minutes). Check flavor and add seasonings to taste. If needed, thicken chili with cornstarch.
Mama B's Vegan Chili
Sherwood Forest 4-H Club, Vallejo
3/4 cup frozen corn kernels, thawed and drained
3 tablespoons sunflower oil
1 medium eggplant, peeled and diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 cup bulgur, rinsed
1 medium purple onion, diced
1/2 jalapeño pepper, minced
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground saigon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne powder
Sea salt and black pepper to taste
1 15-ounce can organic black beans, rinsed and drained
1 15-ounce can organic red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 15-ounce can organic pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup vegetable broth
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon Ghirardelli cocoa powder, unsweetened
In a large heavy skillet, roast corn kernels over mediumhigh heat, stirring constantly, until beginning to brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove and set aside. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the skillet over medium heat and cook eggplant, red bell pepper, and green bell pepper with a pinch of salt until golden, about 10 minutes. Add the bulgur and stir until well combined. Set aside.
In a large saucepan, heat remaining tablespoon of oil over medium heat. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute, then add onion and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in jalapeño, cumin, cinnamon, coriander, paprika, chili powder, salt and pepper. Cook for 1 minute, stirring frequently. Stir in tomatoes, beans, vegetable broth and lime juice. Bring to a simmer. Simmer 15 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in corn and eggplant. Add chocolate and stir just until melted. Taste and adjust seasoning.
Los Verdes Chili Recipe
Los Verdes, Pleasants Valley 4-H Club
3 pounds pork shoulder roast
1 pound pork sausage
3 large cans green enchilada sauce
2 cans white beans
2 white onions
3 green bell peppers
2 poblano peppers
1 serrano pepper
2 bunches cilantro
2 tablespoons garlic powder
2 tablespoons cumin
3 tablespoons chicken stock powder
Brown the meat, add spices and sauce, then onions, peppers and cook on medium high in a large pot on the stovetop for about 2 hours or until meat is done. Add corn starch to thicken.
The Four Little PIGS (Pork in Green Sauce) drew applause as the winners of the 2016 Solano County 4-H Chili Contest. From left are Spencer Merodio, Alexis Taliaferro, Natalie Frenkel and Kate Frenkel, all of the Suisun Valley 4-H Club. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Judging the Solano County Chili-Cookoff are evauators (from left) Solano County Supervisor Linda Seifert of District 2 and James Luka and his son, Jim, of Vallejo. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Pleasants Valley 4-H Club member Justin Means (right, in black hat), Vacaville, serves the evaluators with fellow 4-H'ers youths Coleman Ivie (next to him) and Jaxcson Ivie (foreground). The evaluators are (from left) Solano County Supervisor Linda Seifert, James Luka and Jim Luka. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Close-up of the champion chili, Chili Verde, aka Pork in Green Sauce. At right are black beans and at left, condiments. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)