On March 3, the Sacramento Artists Council, in partnership with Dad’s Kitchen and The Sacramento Press, hosted the inaugural Sacramento Beer and Chili Festival at Southside Park. With proceeds going to art programs for youth, event organizers estimate that approximately 500 attendees gathered to sample beer and taste chili for a good cause.
While the beer was refreshing (including established Sacramento favorites like Ruhstaller and Hoppy, fresh-on-the scene Track 7 and Loomis Basin as well as SF favorite 21st Amendment), it was the chili cook-off that really got our blood pumping.
SacFoodies caught up with first place winner in the “Individual” chili category, Russa Boyd of “Team Boyd” to talk beans and find out what goes into making an award winning chili (one surprising revelation: after burning their first batch they had to run to the store and improvise their entry!).
SacFoodies: What is the key to a great chili?
The most important thing is the spice blend. One thing people never guessed [in our chili] was the cumin. And, because there were so many guys [at the festival], we added bacon. Ultimately, the key is to keep playing around with it. Play with your spice blend and meats. Our chili had chorizo in it which gave a nice heat and porky flavor. I also suggest experimenting with beans and random vegetables like corn.
SacFoodies: What is your must-have ingredient for chili?
Based on what we’ve done, I have to go with bacon and finding the right spice blend. Some people don’t like the heat factor; ours had a good “back heat” which was a good compromise. We included fresh jalapeños and habeneros and I think it was the fresh peppers that did it for us.
SacFoodies: When do you most enjoy eating chili?
Every Christmas Eve, my grandma had an amazing recipe for chili with ranch style beans and corn. It’s really perfect for a winter get-together.
SacFoodies: How long do you cook your chili?
After I brown everything, I keep it in the pot simmering on low for at least two hours. The longer the better.
SacFoodies: What is your culinary background?
I don’t really have a culinary background. My sister, Krista, is a naturally gifted cook. We just like to get people together and enjoy good food.
SacFoodies: Since this is a chili and beer festival, what is your favorite beer to pair with chili?
I like IPA’s. We used Fat Tire in our chili because we didn’t want something too heavy. I recommend a medium beer with a little boldness. Don’t use a light beer in chili.
SacFoodies: Let’s play “Either/Or.” Spicy or Mild?
SacFoodies: Meat or Vegetarian?