Cincinnati Chili

March 12, 2011

Cincinnati Chili - Sweet and Savory Kitchens

Margaux says…

Aunt Suzy got me a subscription to Bon Appetit, so you’ll probably be seeing a lot of posts with recipes from it. I love this magazine! It gives me tons of (much needed) ideas for weeknight dinners, and this one was one of them. The minute I saw the photo of it when I turned the page, I knew I had to make it. See, I grew up in Steak N’ Shake country, and this looks exactly like one of my favorites, Chili 5-Way. Of course, once I looked at the ingredients I knew that Cincinnati chili is much different from the Steak N’ Shake classic…I’m sure S N’ S doesn’t put cocoa powder in theirs…but that made me want to make it even more. And it is DELISH (I hate to say it, but worlds better than S N’ S Chili 5-Way)!

There’s only one small change I made to the recipe-I’m not from anywhere near Cincinnati, so I’m not sure if this small step makes it unauthentic-but the recipe calls for mixing the beans with the spaghetti noodles, and I’m recommending stirring the beans into the chili mixture instead. The small beans did not mix well with the long noodles, and it was difficult to get a good ratio of beans-to-noodles going in each bowl.  Also, because I was on a budget, I made it with ground beef instead of ground lamb, which is what the original recipe calls for.  I’m sure that would be fantastic, and I will be trying it sometime!

Cincinnati Chili - Sweet & Savory Kitchens

Aunt Suzy says . . .

Margaux’s post inspired me to run right out and to get the ingredients for this so I could make it immediately!  The recipe had also caught my eye in Bon Appetit – I’m a Steak N’ Shake girl, and I’ve loved Skyline Chili when I’ve had it in Cincinnati .  This is a “fancied-up” version – you can see more about authentic Cincinnati chili on this episode of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.  I made some adaptions as well.  I cooked the meat first without the olive oil, then removed from the pan, sauteed the onions and garlic in a little olive oil, put the meat back in and proceeded with the recipe from there.  I used a combo of ground chicken/ground turkey and chicken stock.  It worked out well, which I thought it would since I do the same for sloppy joes. Be careful about the spices!  I inadvertently added 1 teaspoon of cloves, so the whole thing had slight clove overtones – it’s one strong spice!  I agree with Margaux that this is delicious and a fun Saturday or Sunday supper.

Cincinnati Chili
adapted from Bon Appetit

serves 4

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped onions
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground beef, lamb, turkey or chicken
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • scant teaspoon ground allspice
  • scant teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • scant teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • pinch ground cloves
  • 2 1/3 cups (about) low-salt beef broth or chicken stock, divided
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • scant tablespoon chili powder
  • 1/2 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 tablespoon (packed) brown sugar
  • 1/2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley, divided
  • 1/2 pound spaghetti
  • 1 15-ounce cans kidney beans, rinsed, drained
  • Coarsely grated goat’s-milk Gouda cheese or goat’s-milk cheddar cheese
  • Chopped onions
  • Heat 1 tablespoon oil in large deep skillet or dutch oven over medium heat. Add onions; sauté until tender, about 10 minutes. Add garlic; stir 1 minute. Add the meat; cook until browned, breaking into pieces, about 15 minutes. Add cocoa and next 4 ingredients; stir 3 minutes. Stir in 2 cups broth and next 6 ingredients. Bring to boil; reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer uncovered until thickened, stirring often, about 1 hour. Spoon fat from top of chili. Season with salt and pepper. Thin with broth by 1/3 cupfuls. Stir in beans and 1 tablespoon parsley.
  • Meanwhile, cook spaghetti in pot of boiling salted water until tender but still firm to bite, stirring occasionally. Drain. Transfer to large bowl. Toss with 1 tablespoon oil. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Divide spaghetti among bowls. Top with chili. Garnish with cheese, onions, and parsley.

Aunt Suzy says

My favorite new discovery is food writer Francis Lam on Salon.com.  Not all his spots include recipes, but all are interesting. The minute I saw his column last Friday I knew I had to bunny-hop down to the farmer’s market on Saturday to get ingredients.  All I needed was arugula, tomatoes and shallots.  I was thinking that it might be too late in the season for arugula, but the great growers of Burning River Farm came through.  I was shocked to see home grown shallots (from another vendor);  I was fully prepared to have to buy them from a store.  I was able to get all three fresh ingredients required for this simple, elegant and beautiful dish. Randy and I ate the entire recipe, which I think was supposed to serve four!  It paired beautifully with a rich Spanish rose wine.   A note about the pasta – I thought from experience that we should be using small pasta shapes of some sort like fusilli or penne, but I’m glad I followed the recipe and used linguine.  It was perfect and fun to eat.  On another note, I heartily recommend reading the original column – link above – it was fun to read and made my mouth water! (August 2011 addendum – Francis is no longer at Salon, but is now at another food site Gilt Taste, where he posted an article about this recipe.)

Margaux says

Making dinner while entertaining a 19 month old is quite a challenge, so I’m always looking for fast and easy…but I don’t want to compromise on flavor!!  This is another winner for me because it took no time at all to make, and it was delicious.  I agree with Suzy that I was going against what I know about pasta by using spaghetti instead of pasta pieces for this dish, but in the end I was glad I followed the recipe!

2 1/2 pounds ripe summer tomatoes (a variety is nice, but good old red farm-stand or garden tomatoes will be just fine)

2-3 handfuls of baby arugula (we added about 3 cups)

thinly sliced shallot or shaved onion

3/4-1 pound spaghetti or linguine, depending on what pasta to veggies ratio you want (we used 3/4 lb linguine)

1 cup grated Parmegiano (the recipe said optional, but I don’t think so :-))

olive oil, salt and pepper

Seed and chop the tomatoes into chunks.  Place in a large bowl – large enough to hold everything including the cooked pasta and with enough room to toss vigorously.  Sprinkle with some olive oil, then salt and pepper to taste.  Place the arugula on top and then the sliced shallots or shaved onion.  (the shallots were fab!)

In the meantime, the spaghetti or linguine should be cooking away – or at least the water should be at the boiling point when you’ve finished setting up your bowl of vegetables.  Cook the pasta in salted water till al dente according to package directions.  When finished cooking, drain and then dump the drained pasta on top of the vegetables.  Press down a little and dowse with olive oil.  Let sit 3 minutes for the arugula to wilt and the shallots or onions to soften up a bit.  After the 3 minute timer goes off, toss a little to blend and then add the Parmegiano and toss away to thoroughly blend the cheese in and distribute the ingredients throughout the dish.  The recipe said to add some red wine vinegar if you want, but we thought it was perfect without.