Monday, May 09, 2005

Sincinnati Chili-Soo Bad, cause it's Soo Good

Joyfully lifted from America's Test Kitchen Live, the most recent cookbook by the editors of Cook's Illustrated. A highly recommended cooking magazine that spawned the highly recommended series on PBS which spawned this VERY highly recommended series of cookbooks. Cook's Illustrated is a wonderful magazine, but slightly on the high priced side for something that comes out every other month.

"Cincinnati Chili was created, according to legend, by a Macedonian immigrant named Athanas Kiradjieff, in the 1920's. He ran a hot dog stand called the Empress, where he served his chili over hot dogs. This deluxe hot dog eventually morphed into the "five-way" concoction beloved by locals."

"Redolent of cinnamon and warm spices, Cincinnati Chili is unlike any chili served in Texas or the rest of the country, for that matter. One taste reveals layers of spices you expect from Middle Eastern or North African cuisine, not food from the American Heartland."

Cincinnati Chili
It is supposed to serve 6-8, we got 4 big servings.

2 teaspoons salt, plus more for taste
1 1/2 pounds ground chuck (80-85% lean)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 medium onions, chopped fine, (about 2 cups)
2 medium garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 cups low sodium canned chicken broth (1 14 oz. can Swansons Low Sodium)
2 cups water
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 teaspoons brown sugar, dark preferred but not necessary
2 cups plain tomato sauce

1) Bring 2 quarts of water and 1 teaspoon of salt to a boil in a large saucepan. Add the ground beef, stirring vigorously to separate the meat into the 'strands' it's ground out of the machine as. As soon as the foam from the meat rises to the top (about 30 seconds) and before the water returns to a boil, drain the meat into a strainer, rinse in warm water and set aside.
NOTE on this step: This process actually removes a portion of the fat in the meat, without rendering it all out, leaving just enough for some good flavor.

2)Rinse and dry the empty saucepan. Set the pan over medium heat and add the oil. When the oil is warm, add the onions and cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are soft and browned around the edges, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in the chili powder, oregano, cocoa, cinnamon, cayenne, allspice, black pepper and the remaining salt. Cook, stirring constantly until the spices are fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the broth, water, vinegar, sugar and tomato sauce, scraping the bottom of the pan to remove any brown bits.
NOTE on this step: It's recommended to dice the onions by hand, a processor will release the natural water in the onion, hindering the browning process. These spices are oil soluble, 'toasting' them in the onions and oil brings out extra flavor. Some chefs call this blooming.

3) Add the beef and increase the heat to high. As soon as the liquid boils, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the chili is deep red and has thickened slightly, about 1 hour. Adjust the seasonings, adding salt and tabasco to taste.
NOTE on this step: Do not cover the chili while it simmers. Covering will keep the steam and liquid in the pan, keeping the chili from thickening properly and remaining soupy.

Serve over buttered spaghetti and top with shredded cheddar, warmed kidney beans and/or diced onions.

UPDATED 2/1/07: A photo entry on Cincinnatti Chili!


Dancer in DC said...

Seriously good, but beware serious heartburn! And yet, it's completely worth it. I highly recommend serving it over pasta, as you really get to experience more layers with the sauce. This definitely rivals the Cinncy chilli they have at Hard Times.

Laurie said...

Made this for a New Years Eve party. Very different! The all-spice/cinnamon flavors were unexpected in chili, but good! Even my husband ate some and he won't usually touch chili. I would have it with rice tho next time, not pasta as I had to explain too many times that it was not an Italian meat sauce, but chili. Thanks for the recipe! I am going to enjoy trying many of your others!