Thursday, June 17, 2010

Cincinnati Skyline Chili

If you're looking for a unique chili recipe, the Cincinnati Chili version is definitely different and unlike other chili recipes. What makes it so interesting is the combination of spices which remind me of those used in Middle Eastern cuisines. It's not even served like your average American chili. Instead it's best over spaghetti and topped with garnishes like kidney beans, shredded cheese and diced onions. This Cincinnati Skyline Chili is excellent and one I highly recommend, even if you've never been to Cincinnati to have the authentic version!...

I have some friends who swear the secret to their chili recipe is in the spices. Well, that certainly applies when making Cincinnati Chili because the blend of spices used is important and will definitely affect the end result. The ground beef is browned then cooked with the spices (chili powder, oregano, cocoa powder, cinnamon, cayenne, allspice...) along with garlic until fragrant, which sets the flavor base of the chili. It's then left to simmer with tomato sauce, broth, water, vinegar and sugar to absorb all the flavors. I will admit I added the beans to the chili to simmer, but the authentic version uses the beans as a garnish or accompaniment. Feel free to hold off on the beans and add them as a garnish instead if you desire. This chili is truly delicious and is a favorite at our house. It makes a nice batch enough for 6-8 people so if you have a small household like ours, leftovers freeze beautifully and are even more delicious the next day.

Cincinnati Skyline Chili
recipe adapted from Cook's Illustrated

1 1/2 pounds ground beef (80% lean)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 large onion
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons chili powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 cups tomato sauce
2 cups low sodium chicken broth
2 cups water
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 teaspoons dark brown sugar
1 15oz can red kidney beans (rinsed, drained, warmed)

1 pound spaghetti, cooked according to package directions
2 cups shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese
1 medium sweet vidalia onion, minced

In a large dutch oven, add the oil along with the onions and cook until they soften. Add the ground beef to the pot. Saute the beef and break up the meat with a potato masher.

Once the beef has browned and is broken up, add the garlic, followed by the spices - chili powder, cayenne, dried oregano, cocoa powder, ground allspice, ground cinnamon, ground cloves, ground black pepper and one teaspoon of salt. Stir to combine and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Stir in the tomato sauce, broth, water, vinegar, sugar, and drained beans scraping the pan bottom to remove any browned bits. Once it comes to a boil, reduce the heat to medium low and simmer. Stir occasionally until the chili is deep red in color and has thickened slightly, roughly an hour. Season with salt and hot sauce to taste.

To serve, plate up spaghetti and top with chili. Garnish with cheese and onions if desired.

* To make ahead/freezer meal
- Prepare the chili as directed above and allow to cool completely. Place in a freezer safe container and freeze. When ready to enjoy, defrost completely and bring to a simmer over medium low heat before serving.