Re:Foodie Newbie looking for the perfect bowl of blessedness or "the lady in blue"
Winning a chili competition is different from making good chili.
Seriously. The best chili is the most basic recipe; cubed beef (I use chuck), onions, ground chile, cumin, Mexican oregano, garlic, salt, water, and masa; almost exactly what chewingthefat has, except no tomatoes. I personally think it would be fine with tomatoes, but it doesn't need any.
Dust the beef cubes in flour and brown them in oil, a few at a time, removing as they get done and adding more, until they're all browned. Add the onions to the empty pot and sautee until translucent (you can add fresh chiles here: anchos or poblanos for mild, jalapenos or serranos for medium, habaneros for hot); then add the beef back in, and the spices, and water to cover. Simmer for a long time, taste and adjust the seasonings, then thicken it with the masa. I didn't list portions of the ingredients because that is the individual variation. Use a decent amount of onion but not too much. Use more than a little bit of chile and cumin, but less than lots. Use some garlic and salt, and just a bit of Mexican oregano, not too much. You can always adjust them after an hour of simmering.
Thing is, this probably won't win, because it's too simple. I used to have a great fancy chili recipe, with all sorts of goofball ingredients. When I went back to the basics, I forgot the other one. This one tastes better.