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I Made the Chili

La Quinta, California: When I last left you, we had just enjoyed a wonderful week with visiting family and the Super Bowl loomed. If the Bengals won, Cincinnati-style chili would be served at our house, over a bed of the traditional spaghetti pasta. Well, we all know how that turned-out... but being ever positive, the ingredients for the dish had been purchased. I jumped in.

There are 23 million links to Cincinnati Chili via a Google search. I have only eaten it twice - both times at Skyline Chili in Cincinnati. I do remember the taste however, and remember a few rumored things about the top-secret recipe developed by a Greek immigrant, and the odd way the chili is prepared: the ground beef is not sauteed. It is boiled, and the onions are added to the sauce raw. Nothing sounds more disgusting than boiling ground beef, but I am trying to be authentic. If the chili turned out disgusting, we could eat the spaghetti with butter and garlic. 

After looking through way-too-many recipes (so many of them were exact copies of each other!), I went for a combo of two - The New York Times and The Spruce Eats - both requiring boiled ground beef. Here is the smaller version prepared to celebrate the 2nd place Super Bowl team:

14 ounce can low-sodium beef broth
1 cup water
1 pound 90% lean ground beef
15 ounce can tomato sauce
1 cup finely minced onion
2 cloves grated garlic (I used two frozen Dorot cubes)
1 Tablespoon cider vinegar
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 bay leaf
2 Tablespoons chili powder (note to self: use 1 Tablespoon next time)
1 teaspoon cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch ground cloves
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
TO SERVE: boiled spaghetti pasta and mounds of finely grated cheddar cheese

The beef broth and water were placed in my 5-quart Dutch oven, then the ground beef was added. The mixture was brought to a boil and simmered for 30 minutes, while breaking-up the beef with the back of a spoon. While this was happening, the rest of the ingredients were added to a small mixing bowl. Everything went into the bowl - tomato sauce, onion, garlic, Worcestershire sauce, vinegar, and all the spices - stirred well, then dumped into the boiling beef. 

The chili did smell amazing as it simmered away for an hour or so. It is advised the sauce tastes better the next day, plus chilling will allow the fat rise to the top for easy removal. After cooling, the pot was covered and placed in the fridge overnight, but the next morning there was no fat to remove. But I did remember to remove the bay leaf!

This version did not taste exactly like the Skyline chili I recall from all those years ago. It was spicier (hotter), but we did enjoy our meal - served with a Greek salad. The recipe made enough for 4-6  people when served over pasta. The remaining sauce went into the freezer for Leo (our Bengal fan) to try next time he is here.

In a nod to my home state, Tillamook cheddar was used!

In other news... after living here for 18 months, we finally ordered a little blue bistro set for our entry courtyard:

My new office?

Until my next update, I remain, your Cincinnati correspondent.

One thought

  1. Boiling hamburger meat as you described is also the way Made-Rite loose meat sandwiches are made (a Nebraska sandwich). It’s wonderful so I imagine your chili was great also! Will definitely be trying your recipe!

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