Monday, November 17, 2008

Cincinnati Five-Way Chili...

Thankfully, Jeff has come to appreciate having an open mind when it comes to dinners we prepare around here now. If I would have told him the details about tonight's dinner a few years ago, I would have been vetoed quickly and would be faced with choosing another recipe. It is not like tonight's Cincinnati Five-Way Chili is completely outrageous or anything, but he would have balked at the combination of spices, beans and pasta.

To lighten up the chili, we used a combination of lean ground sirloin and ground turkey - since I grind my own turkey, I used about 8 ounces of white meat to 4 ounces of dark to impart a bit more flavor. Once the meat started to brown, we tossed in one of those fist-sized onions that we chopped - after enough time for the onion pieces to soften, we stirred a couple cloves worth of minced garlic into the pot.

Here is where this chili really gets down and dirty - a mess of spices are added to season up the pot, including chili powder, cumin, cinnamon, allspice and coriander. For a touch of sweetness, brown sugar is added, along with spicy barbecue sauce and a splash or two of vinegar to add a zesty punch. Now, to add a dark depth to this intriguing mixture, can you guess what we else was put in? Bitter, unsweetened chocolate! I know this is nothing new or earth shattering as we've added cocoa before to other savory recipes, but it always gets me how much of an impact that extra special ingredient gives. The chili would be pretty dry at this point, so to keep it moovin' and groovin', tomato puree and water are also stirred in with the spices.

Plenty of time is given to this chili to bubble way, allowing its unique character to develop and flourish. The end texture was a little loose, but it still had a thickness to it - kind of like a very meaty marinara sauce, but the taste will say otherwise. To serve, the hearty chili is ladled over cooked whole-wheat spaghetti and topped with a smattering of raw onions, shredded sharp cheddar and warmed kidney beans. We tried to keep the stats in check by not going crazy with the cheese and using whole-wheat spaghetti, but don't let that stop you from piling on the cheese and using whatever spaghetti you've got!

It is not something we normally have around the house, so we didn't add any, but if you don't think the toppings are enough as is, a scattering of oyster crackers on top would be an appropriate finishing touch. I've never had chili in Cincinnati (or even been to the city), so I won't be one to claim that this is how chili is properly served there, but nonetheless, it was a fun and tasty way to change it up!


  1. Joe,

    this looks so yum. I bet it comfy food with the cold weather.

  2. What a great mix of spices and I love the chocolate addition. I tried this once with a bean chili and it added such a great depth of flavour

  3. I made pretty much the same thing last night, to be reheated for supper tonight! Yummy, yours looks so good. My hubby recently returned from Cincinnati, and claims that mine tastes pretty close to the infamous Skyline. My fingers are crossed!

  4. I love the combinations of spices and ingredients you used!

  5. I made some vegetarian chili mac over the weekend. Never thought to Cincinnati it up, but what a great idea.....

  6. My boyfriend went to Cincinnati and his mind was blown but the pasta that the chili was served on. He also gained 10 lbs while there. Great recipe!

  7. Helene - Yes! It is getting quite blustery around here too.

    Katie - The chocolate is definitely a nice touch.

    NM - Awesome! I hope you liked your version.

    Christina - Thanks!

    Quinn - Next time?

    Hallie - I'd love to go some time just to see how it is really done!