Cincinnati Chili

It was a cold, dreary day last Saturday, with weather watchers predicting that Tropical Storm Danny would cause windy, rainy conditions. Although some plans had to be postponed due to the weather, we were secretly happy to stay in, relaxing in pj's and catching up on our TV shows after the first week back to work, post-summer vacation. What better way to celebrate such a Saturday than with one of the best comfort food dishes we know: Cincinnati Chili.

We first tried Cincinnati Chili in its actual namesake city, on a one-month road trip that took us from Connecticut to Florida to Louisiana to Ohio to Toronto and back (with many more stops along the way!) during the summer of 1999. Our food guide on the trip was Jane and Michael Stern's Roadfood and while we didn't find the exact chili joint they recommended, we found out that this chili specialty can be had at quite a few great spots in that city.

True Cincinnati Chili is five-way chili: spiced ground meat on top of spaghetti noodles that is then topped with beans, cheese and onions. On our stop, we were told some secrets - that in the best Cincinnati Chili recipes, bull meat and chocolate are key ingredients. Well, we didn't have any bull meat on hand on Saturday, but here is our version of Cincinnati Chili, a four-way chili since our onions are cooked within the chili and are not a raw topping.

2 1/2 pounds ground beef
1 large onion, diced
2-3 cups water
1 1/2 teaspoons cider vinegar
1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
2 teaspoons chili powder
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon allspice
1 1/2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa
1 cardamom pod (split and use the contents)
2 8-ounce cans tomato sauce
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 pound bucatini pasta
1 small can red beans
shredded cheddar cheese, raw chopped onion, salt and pepper to taste

In a large pot, brown the ground beef and the onion together with the water, making sure to break down the beef finely. Cook until the onions are translucent and there is no pink left in the beef. Add the remaining ingredients and stir to mix well. Bring it to a boil, then cover and allow to cook over low heat for about an hour and a half, stirring occasionally. When ready to serve, boil pasta according to package directions and warm the red beans. Serve the chili over the pasta, then top with beans, cheese and onions.

1 comment:

Chris said...

The keys are the Greek-ish spices in the meat sauce and the finely shredded cheese. (and lots of it -- looks like could use another handful in the pic!)