It’s that time of year again: the annual Squirrels Chili Cook-off!
One of many traditions here at Squirrels is an annual company-wide chili competition. Employees share and taste test home-cooked chilis before a vote is held to crown a champion.
The winner takes home the annual Squirrels Chili Cook-off trophy for a year.
This year’s winner is account executive Sean Courtney (pictured right) with his “Kevin’s Spilled Chili” submission. This is his first win and first chili cook-off appearance. Courtney dethrones reigning Squirrels Chili Cook-off champion Connal Kelly.
“I don’t even know where to begin. This feels incredible,” Courtney said. “Winning the 2018 Squirrels Chili Cook-off is something I’ll never forget.”
“Kevin’s Spilled Chili” may sound familiar to fans of a popular NBC sitcom. That nostalgia factor was absolutely intentional.
“The title of my chili is almost as important as the ingredients,” Courtney said. “I love ‘The Office’ and so do a lot of people at Squirrels. I named my chili after a favorite episode.”
Well played, Courtney. Well played. Find the award-wining recipe below.
The episode of “The Office” in question tells the saga of accountant Kevin Malone and an ill-fated pot of homemade chili. When Kevin decides to share his chili with his coworkers … well, watch for yourself:
“I wanted to draw people in with a clever name and leave them wanting more with a great taste,” Courtney said. “The meats create a bold combination of flavors and textures. Plus, three types of peppers really crank up the heat.”
Here’s the winning recipe:
Kevin’s Spilled Chili
- 4 tablespoons olive oil, separated
- 1 ½ pounds ground sirloin
- 1 ½ pounds chorizo
- 1 ½ pounds sirloin steak, cut into 1-inch cubes
- 2 bell peppers, seeded and diced
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 yellow onion, diced
- 2 jalapenos, seeded and diced (for spicier chili, leave seeds in)
- 2 poblano peppers, seeded and diced
- ½ of 2.5 ounce can of chopped green chiles
- 6 tablespoons chili powder
- 2 tablespoons cumin powder
- 2 tablespoons onion powder
- 4 teaspoons paprika powder
- 24 ounces Great Lakes Burning River Pale Ale Beer
- 29 ounces fire roasted diced tomatoes
- 30 ounces tomato sauce
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Black beans and queso fresco cheese for garnish
- Brown the ground sirloin and chorizo over medium heat in a large pot. Drain and set aside.
- Add 2 tablespoons olive oil to cast iron skillet. Add steak and cook over medium heat for 6-7 minutes (or until medium to medium-rare). Set aside.
- Add remaining olive oil, onions, garlic, bell peppers, jalapeno, poblano pepper and green chiles to the large pot and cook for 5 mins.
- Add drained meat, steak, beer, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, cumin, chili powder, onion powder and paprika to the pot and cover.
- Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 1-2 hours. Stir occasionally.
- Top with queso fresco cheese, black beans or your favorite chili garnish.
- Serve and enjoy!
What’s next for Sean? Will he defend his title in next year’s Squirrels Chili Cook-off or hang up his ladle while he’s still ahead?
"You'll have to stay tuned for the decision," he said.