Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Cincinnati Style Chili

Anybody that knows me would know that I am a HUGE fan of Skyline Chili.  Eating Skyline is seriously a ritual for me: While waiting for my order to arrive, dash a bit of hot sauce on the oyster crackers and eat a few.  The 3-way quickly arrives (sometimes half vegetarian (black beans & rice mixture)...which often confuses the waitresses!) and I first eat the shredded cheese off the top until a thin melty layer remains, then cover the dish with lots of hot sauce, then cut the noodles into a column followed buy cutting that column into a row, eat a square of delishness, repeat until all that remains is a bit of chili juice on the plate.  Ahhh.  Heaven. 

I always joke that one reason that I could never move away from Cincinnati would be that I would have Skyline withdrawal.  Sure, you can buy Skyline in a can or frozen but it's not the same.  Even further off from the real deal but still good in its own way is the powdered Cincinnati-style chili mixes.  There's something about the consistency of the chili at the restaurant (velvety smooth and not too runny!) and the huge and flavorful mound of Skyline cheese (yes, I swear they have their own special cheese!) that really makes the dish.

Tonight, I tried my hand at making Cincinnati Style Chili from scratch.  I found several recipes and this just might be a series of posts until my quest for the best recipe is complete.  (If you have one you love, please share!).  This particlar one was good but not GREAT.  Very similar to the Cincinnati-Style (Blue) Powder packets that you can buy in the local groceries but with a weaker spice in my opinion.  Definitely NOT Skyline.  Alas, that secret recipe lies with the Lambrinides Family...if only I had thought of asking them to share it with me when they were my parent's neighbors!

Brief tutorial for Cincinnati Chili Virgins (ha, no pun intended!):
One-way: Chili only
Two-Way: Spaghetti noodles topped with chili.
Three-Way: Spaghetti noodles, chili, finely shredded mild cheddar cheese
Four-Way: Spaghetti, chili, cheese, and red kidney beans OR finely chopped white onions
Five-Way: Spaghetti, chili, cheese, beans AND onion.
Coney: Mini hot dog in a bun with chili; mustard and onions optional.
Cheese Coney: Mini hot dog in a bun with chili and shredded cheddar cheese; mustard and onions optional.
Pizza: Not really a traditional usage but sometimes I like to mix things up a bit.  You can use a regular pizza dough and top it with chili for the sauce.  Top with cheddar cheese, onions, and cut up hot dog pieces.

Cincinnati Style Chili
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Photo credit: Delicious Melicious

Yields: 6 pints

  • 3 lbs. lean hamburger, DO NOT BROWN!
  • 2 qts. water
  • 2 lg. onions, finely chopped
  • 29 oz. can tomato sauce
  • 1/2 tsp. allspice
  • 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 5 tbsp. chili powder
  • 2 tbsp. vinegar
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 3 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 oz. unsweetened baking chocolate squares (or 1/2 Tbsp cocoa powder)
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 10 drops Tabasco sauce
  1. In a large pot whisk together hamburger, water and onions until beef is broken up; Turn stove on and bring to a boil then simmer for 30 minutes.
  2. Then add remaining ingredients. Simmer for 2 or 3 hours, uncovered.
  3. Serve it your way, as per tutorial above.
Source: Modified from Delicious Melicious

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