Hundreds of Boiseans huddled around burn barrels in the parking lot behind the 13th Street Pub on Feb. 23. And though it snowed off and on throughout the day, it wasn't the chill that brought them there, it was the chili—18 varieties of the fart-aficionado's favorite brew, to be specific.
This year's rendition of the the annual Hyde Park Chili Cook-Off featured an expanded roster of chilies from last year—18 instead of 11—as well as a more adventurous series of recipes, everything from simple and traditional stews to daring uses of ingredients like elk, pumpkin ale and finely chopped Swiss chard, which soaked up the chili flavor magnificently.
Two varieties from Parrilla Grill were made with such liberal amounts of ghost pepper powder that it made this reporter cry—which made the chefs responsible for the devil's stew high-five.
One of the most interesting entries was a veggie chili that used mushroom stock blended with a variety of chipotle peppers for a meaty chili flavor. Another, from Crooked Fence brewing, used pumpkin ale to flavor a chicken stock, which was topped with a thick puree of smoked jalapenos.
But in the end, the judges—including myself—gave top honors to Peak Restoration's "summer chili," made with ancho chilies and a variety of white beans, then topped with queso fresco. Its creators won a pass to Tamarack for next season.
The People's Choice Award went to Capital Steamway for its Texas-style chili, a richly flavored traditional style. Second place went to the Sports Talk Radio team for its lime bacon habanero chili. Those teams both won $100 gift certificates to Parrilla Grill or 13th Street Pub and Grill.
"Sweet! Let's drink," said one of the men behind the lime bacon habanero chili.
Everyone who voted just won a mean case of heartburn.
The money raised from the cook-off will all go to the Saint Luke's Children's Hospital.