Friday, April 25, 2008

Trying something different
--Cincinnati Chili

Cincinnati Chili
American Dietetic Association Cooking Healthy Across America Copyright 2005

1 pound extra-lean ground beef, such as sirloin
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 6-ounce can tomato paste
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon allspice
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
12 ounces thin spaghetti, cooked I used Smart Taste
¾ cup finely shredded mild cheddar cheese I used 50% Light Cabot Cheddar
1 small onion, finely diced

Brown the beef and onion in a large heavy pot over medium-high heat, for about 5 to 7 minutes.

Add 2 cups water and the garlic, tomato paste, vinegar, chili powder, cocoa powder, Worcestershire sauce, cinnamon, cumin, allspice, bay leaves, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil; cover and reduce heat to simmer. Cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the bay leaves before serving. Adjust the cumin and pepper.

Serve over spaghetti. Add cheese and onions.

Makes 6 servings: Per serving: 320 cal, 12 g fat, 6 g sat fat, 40 mg chol, 520 mg sodium, 29 g carbs, 4g fiber, 24 g protein

I've always been fascinated with Cincinnati chili. I've never eaten it before but I've seen it on many food shows. They ladle it over spaghetti for a 2-way, add cheese for a 3-way, onions for a 4-way and beans (cooked separately) for a 5-way. It always looked so damn good.

I knew the recipe traditionally had cinnamon in it but I figured it would meld into the other flavors, such as when you add chocolate or cocoa to chili which I've often done. It really doesn't though - the cinnamon stands out, which I found very off-putting. One of my two biggest cooking disasters since starting this blog involved a crab enchilada casserole that had cinnamon in a tomato sauce. I still get queasy thinking about it and we never even ate it - it went straight into the trash. The smell was enough to prompt it's dismissal.

When I smelled the cinnamon and allspice cooking in this chili, that was all I could think of but I was going to give it a chance. I compared this recipe to one I found on allrecipes and it looked similar enough that while this isn't completely authentic (it's a healthy recipe, after all), it looks like a fair representation of Cincinnati chili. It's probably not as fine textured and it's thicker but the flavor seems right. Cincinnati chili is loved by many so I figured there must be something to it. I made it the night before which I hoped would help.

In the end, with the cheese and lots of raw chopped onion (a 4-way), this wasn't half bad. I just don't know if I could get used to this kind of chili after 38 years of eating, I guess you would say, a Texas-style chili. I don't think I would make it again, although if I'm ever in Cincinnati, I might stop in at a chili parlor and sample the real McCoy.

Blast From The Past: Texas-Style Chili from January 2007. Yes, I think I'll stick to chili recipes in that style from now on.

Question of the Day: Have you ever had Cincinnati chili? Do you like it?


Randi said...

I made it once with a spice blend for Cinci chili that I ordered online. I HATED IT. I too think it was the cinnamon.

Kim said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kim said...

Skyline Chili is a big chain in the midwest that features Cincinnati chili. It's awful--I just don't get it. Chili should NOT have cinnamon in it. The smell alone makes me ill.

That being said, I know people who adore it. My college friend from Chicago, who now lives in California, buys a ton of Skyline to take home in a cooler when she visits.

Ick. No thank you.

Anonymous said...

I've never had it, and after reading the comments, I'm thankful for that. Chili is what I made for dinner tonight - good old Texas chili and cornbread.


Anonymous said...

I had to smile when I read your post. I lived in Ohio for a while and tried Cincinnati chili because the locals just raved about it. My reaction with every forkful was "hmmm, Christmas cookies . . . how odd!"

Liz Baumann
Bellefonte, PA

Anonymous said...

I also think the cinnamon totally stands out in a disgusting way.

And chili should bever be over pasta, either.


Carla said...

Your picture looks good, but with all the negative comments, I'm hesitate on putting cinnamon in my chili. Maybe I should pass on this?

Sara said...

i saw another recipe for cincinatti chili on the internet last week. i kind of want to try it, even though so many commenters don't like it.