Monthly Archives: January 2009

Cincinnati chili now added to our household rotation

cincinnati chili 3 way

This dish has walked through my viewfinder several times, in increasing frequency, such that I just had to try it out.

I first heard about Cincinnati chili when I watched an Anthony Bourdain episode about Cleveland, where one of his best buddies, Michael Ruhlman, a food writer and BIG Ohio Fan, resides. They went to Skyline chili and tucked into this dish: chili atop spaghetti (yes you heard right), topped with cheese and beans and other goodies. Judging by the way they gorged themselves on this dish, I figured, “Wow, that must taste good.”

Cincinnati chili can be presented 3-way (chili, beans, cheese), 4-way (chili, beans, cheese, onions), 5-way (chili, beans, cheese, onions, sour cream…) and beyond. Wowee. It seemed bizarre and good, like Frito Pies are bizarre and good. I shelved the images in my mind. Must try this someday.

Cue the Whole Foods Budget Recipe Challenge, where Rachel of Coconut and Lime‘s Cincinnati chili recipe was showcased as a finalist. There it was again! It was like being in the know–and boy did it look delicious. I bookmarked the page.

And most recently, I got an email from Cooks’ Illustrated highlighting a Cincinnati chili recipe. I watched the video and became entranced.

You know how they say it takes people three tries to like a food? I guess after running into Cincinnati chili three times, I just gotta make it.

My husband’s a big chili lover and he was excited about me making chili (I’ve never made homemade chili before so sue me!). I announced my intentions on making Cincinnati chili on Facebook and was met with mixed reviews. “Ugggh,” they said, “Cue the Jaws music.” Why? I asked. Does it taste bad?

“No,” my friend replied, “It’s just not chili. It has COCOA in it! And it doesn’t have beans in it!” After pushing them further they said, “It’s an acquired taste.” Hrmmm. “You either love it or hate it.”

Oh. Did I mention that the chili has cocoa powder in it? I was astonished but reassured that it was indeed an integral part of Cincinnati chili. (And really, chocolate can only make things yummier, right?).

Still, I forged on, hoping that we’d be in the love it camp. I had to keep telling my husband, “This is NOT your Texas chili! Don’t expect it to be CHILI!” I wanted him to be in the “love it” camp, and expectation-setting, I felt, was key in preparation.

There are variations on this recipe–Rachel of Coconut and Lime sautes her ground beef. I chose to boil my ground beef, following the America’s Test Kitchen/Cooks’ Illustrated recipe more closely. Rachel’s recipe included cloves. The Cooks’ Illustrated recipe didn’t include cloves. I like cloves. So I added cloves. I tasted as I went, and the following is the recipe I came up with.

The result? It was a hit. The hubby said it was like a really interesting spaghetti. I took it to work and offered it to a couple of Ohio natives, who gave it a thumbs up.

We’re in the “love it” camp. Thank you, Ruhlman and Rachel and America’s Test Kitchen. :)

Update: Recently, we tried the chili atop poached eggs. Delicious; and if you like yolks, the yolks combined very well with the chili. Great lower-carb option to putting the chili atop spaghetti.

cincinnati chili over marin sun farms poached eggs

Recipe follows after the jump…

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red beans and rice

homemade red beans and rice

I looooove red beans and rice. If offered, I never pass up a chance at a big bowl of long grained rice topped with the savory saucy spicy beans. And it’s not just red beans and rice–I just love beans and rice, period! I knew a guy who lived on welfare in Wyoming as a child–he described an entire year spent eating solely beans and rice. He did not remember it fondly for obvious reasons and hated beans and rice. That’s just about the only scenario in which I would UNDERSTAND hating beans and rice.

Given how much I love this dish, you’d think I would cook it at home regularly.

But nope. Get this: I have NEVER made beans and rice at home! Not even in the form of chili (and yes, I’ll tackle chili next). Seriously. And it’s just the best comfort food, and the most straightforward thing to make.

Of course now that we’ve made the vow eat in more often (avoiding that restaurant sodium), I couldn’t just bolt out the door to a restaurant for red beans and rice. It was clear: I had to make some at home.

And dudes–I can’t believe I waited this long. It is the BESTEST dish EVAR. We’re making this again. And again. And again. My husband wolfed down the first bowl and ran (RAN!) back to the pot for seconds. Moreover, he-who-hates-leftovers also took some red beans and rice with him to work for lunch. Seriously.

It took me back to the first time I had red beans and rice–sometime in college, cooked for me by a friend from the South (oh how I loved the dorms for bringing us all together in a delicious nexus), feeling the pleasant burn of cayenne in my mouth. I fell in love. I imagine for my husband, it took him back to his Louisiana childhood with muggy bayous and crawfish boils.

It takes awhile to make–the beans need to soak overnight (and even with the quick soak method, they still take a few hours to prep). But the process is straightforward: everything goes into a pot and then gets boiled and simmered over a few hours. Great on a slow day or evening. Not so great if you need dinner on the table in 30 minutes.

Recipe follows after the jump

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