For the past couple of days, I’ve been teasing everyone on the Manly Kitchen Facebook page (please go LIKE it now!) with photos of my latest Chili Masterpiece. I’ve pleased to tell you that everything came out amazingly well! Now that you know that, let me give you the longer version.
It all started on Friday, when a friend and I were talking about doing another dinner party. My chili has quickly become famous in my new home, and so the conversation eventually wound it’s way to it. My friend had a pair of chuck roasts they wanted to cook, but didn’t have any ideas beyond “well, we could do pot roast.”
I suggested using it for chili. Of course. I mean, it’s meat, right? So it will be awesome with a good Colorado sauce, right?
Let’s do chili.
With a roast like that, I’ll often do shredded beef chili. This time, however, we decided that since my friends had never experienced chili Cincinnati-style, we’d go that route. I did make a few changes, though. Ha! Like you didn’t know that already!
Sunday afternoon, I took care of the peppers. I used a total of 16 oz., which is a quadruple batch. I made a complete mess of the kitchen while doing them, but I didn’t care. The house smelled wonderful and I was in the zone! By the time I was done, I had pretty much filled my dutch oven. We’re talking almost a gallon of pepper puree! I shuder with delight at the mere thought. Be still, my beating heart!
By the time I got done with the peppers, it was time to head out to the Powerhouse Pub for the Sunday evening jam. I do my best to never miss the Powerhouse; it’s always a good time, and I get to see a lot of good players. Great music, great hang, so it’s an excellent way to end the weekend.
The jam ran late, so I got home about midnight. Within minutes I was elbow deep in spices. I got everything into the peppers and set it to simmer. Preparing the meat was easy – open the package… duh! – and I set that in the slow cooker with some thinly sliced onions. It was almost two when I added the Colorado sauce to the cooker and headed to bed.
Yesterday afternoon, somewhere around 2, I pulled the meat from the slow cooker. Twelve hours of slow cooking meant the meat was falling apart at the lightest touch, and that’s a good thing. Shredding the meat required nothing more than pressing on the top with the back of a fork.
Here’s the thing, though: Cincinnati Chili is made with ground beef, and I wanted to get close to that kind of consistency. I didn’t really want larger pieces of meat like I’d normally get when doing a shredded beef version. So, once I’d shredded the meat, I then chopped it by hand. It didn’t take that long for the extra step, and it was really worth it in the end.
The chopped meat was returned to the slow cooker and stirred back into the sauce. And it was perfect! I had just enough sauce in the pot, and the taste was unbelievable. I had the hardest time leaving it alone until dinnertime. Finally, 5:00 rolled around and it was time to get over to my friend’s house, where the dinner party was taking place. Not so fast!! First, deal with six phone calls, one after the other, as I’m trying to get things into the car. Because of that, I ended up forgetting the sour cream. Thankfully, there was some at the house, along with all the other parts of the meal.
It turned out there were six others at the dinner. While we finished preparation – boiling the noodles, rinsing and warming the beans – refreshing beverages were poured, chips and home made salsa were devoured, and the suspense heightened. Everyone was very interested in this whole “Cincinnati Style” thing.
For those who are unfamiliar with the term, let me explain Cincinnati Chili. Actually, let me quote Wikipedia:
Cincinnati chili (or “Cincinnati-style chili”) is a regional style of chili con carne characterized by the use of seasonings such as cinnamon, cloves, allspice or chocolate. It is commonly served over spaghetti or as a hot dog sauce, and is normally of a thin, sauce-like consistency, unlike most chili con carne. While served in many regular restaurants, it is most often associated with several restaurant chains, such as Empress Chili, Skyline Chili, Gold Star Chili, Camp Washington Chili, Pleasant Ridge Chili and Dixie Chili. Restaurant locations are found pervasively in greater Cincinnati with franchise locations also throughout Ohio and in Kentucky, Indiana, and Florida. Restaurants that feature Cincinnati chili are frequently called “chili parlors”.
According to the Greater Cincinnati Convention and Visitors Bureau, Cincinnatians consume more than two million pounds of chili each year, topped by 850,000 pounds of shredded cheddar cheese. …
OK… so that’s the chili itself, but on top of it (pun!) there are lots of other things: spaghetti, beans, shredded cheese and onions. Here are the sanctioned ways in which to enjoy Cincinnati Chili:
Bowl: chili in a bowl
Two-way: chili and spaghetti
Three-way: chili, spaghetti, and cheese
Four-way: chili, spaghetti, cheese, and onions
Five-way: chili, spaghetti, cheese, onions, and beans
Certrainly, there are other three and four ingredient combinations to be had, but this is the official list. Dixie Chili also serves a Six Way chili that includes garlic. Other parlors have their own extra ingredients. Hot sauce is a table-topper everywhere, and oyster crackers are a common side. I usually add jalapeno slices on top and sour cream on the side.
When everything was ready, I served each guest the spaghetti, beans and chili (in that order), then sent them down the counter to add cheese and onions to taste, along with the aforementioned jalapenos and sour cream, if desired. Instead of oyster crackers we enjoyed tortilla chips and that amazing salsa.
I was the only person at the table who’d had Cincinnati Chili; it was a first time experience for the rest. Wanting to go whole hog, as it were, they all chose to go with Five Way plus the peppers and sour cream. Everyone gave the chili – and the entire Cincinnati experience – and TEN. And since several of them have sampled my other versions (find them here), that made me feel really good!
I had enough leftover chili to make two good-sized meals, and the same for extra Colorado sauce. I left half with the dinner host and brought the rest back here for my own use. I’ve got a few ideas I’m considering, but I haven’t made up my mind yet. No matter which way I go, you’ll probably see the result here in a few days.
Something to keep in mind: you can use most of my versions of chili for a Cincinnati-style presentation. If the beans are already in there, don’t worry about extras. The only one I don’t think I’d use is when I cube the beef into large chunks, then brown them before simmering in sauce.
Another thing to keep in mind – this is a Texas take on this classic. The sauce is thicker than usual, and it’s spiced more to my liking, not necessarily conforming to any of the “authentic” Cincinnati recipes.
As I said, though, everyone absolutely loved it! And the bowl I had for lunch with just some chopped onions and accompanied by tortillas was fantastic! No matter what adjustments you make to this, have a great time and don’t forget to
Play with your food!
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