The Scoop on the East Nashville Chili Bowl Chili Cook-Off — Plus Recipe!

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When it comes to fall cook-offs, chili rules.

It feeds a crowd and keeps us warm while instigating a friendly fight over prizes and bragging rights. Healthy competition, after all, helps make our collective chilis better. That’s part of why I enjoy the East Nashville Chili Bowl Chili Cook-Off, which happens again tomorrow, Tuesday, Nov. 12, at 7 p.m. on the back patio of 3 Crow Bar on Woodland Street in East Nashville.

Competitors will be wearing game faces and carrying Crock-pots cloaked with dish towels to protect secret ingredients -— from chicken in white chilis to lamb or sausage in beer or tomato-based versions to seasonal butternut squash.

Organizer and 3 Crow bartender Wayne Hanan said a few competition spots remain. So if you think you’ve got what it takes, contact Hanan as soon as possible at wlhanan@gmail.com. Entry to compete is $20 or just $3 to taste (and judge — there’s a people’s choice award as well as panel of official judges tasting entries blind). All proceeds go to East C.A.N.

Last year’s champ and Margot Cafe bartender Brian Jackson generously shared his winning recipe below. But look out, chili cooks. Jackson will be sitting at the judges’ table this year.

Venison Chili Pie

4 tablespoons vegetable oil or rendered pork fat
1 medium onion, chopped
6 cloves garlic, crushed
1 pound hot venison sausage (or hot pork breakfast sausage)
1 pound venison stew meat
1 14-ounce can crushed tomatoes
1 14-ounce can hot chili beans
1.5 tablespoons chili powder
1.5 tablespoons cumin
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
3-4 oz. chipotle peppers with adobo sauce chopped
salt to taste

For the cornbread
1.5 cups self-rising cornmeal
1 cup buttermilk
¼ cup vegetable oil
1 egg
1 tablespoon bacon fat, melted
1-2 green jalapeno pepper, seeds and ribs removed

Heat oil in 5-quart pot or Dutch oven.
Add onions cook 5 minutes or until translucent.
Add garlic and cook another minute.
Add sausage and stew meat. Cook until browned, stirring constantly.
Add chili beans, tomatoes, chili powder, paprika and chipotle peppers with sauce.
Bring to a boil then reduce heat to a simmer for 2-3 hours until stew meat is tender.
Salt to taste.

Heat oven to 400.
Whisk cornbread ingredients together and pour over the chili.
It can be tricky to get it even.
Bake until toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean, 35-40 minutes.
Or, heat a 10-inch cast iron skillet at 400 with the bacon fat, add whisked ingredients and bake 30-35 minutes then set the cornbread on top of the chili.

Recipe from Brian Jackson

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