I'm not sure what motivated me to make Cincinnati chili cockaigne (p. 514) except I've always been interested in the 2- through 5-way styles (which I've totally seen in Ohio and Indiana). I don't love chili as much as some people do but it's such an excellent cold weather food...and it's getting colder! I still have at least four or five more TJOC chilis to go!
The chili recipe started in a way that was completely novel to me--cooking two pounds of ground meat in boiling water. Bizarre! I essentially poached ground beef.
I added onions, garlic, tomato sauce, cider vinegar, and Worcestershire sauce...so far, pretty normal.
I then got to the spices--ground peppercorn, ground allspice berries, ground whole cloves--a perfect use for my brand new spice grinder!! I love my new spice grinder, although I'm having trouble cleaning it. Does anyone else have one of these? How do you clean it? Or do you clean a coffee grinder?
I stirred in a bay leaf, salt, cinnamon, red pepper, cumin....
...and an ounce of unsweetened chocolate?
I've heard of people adding chocolate (as well as other bizarre ingredients like peanut butter) to their chili but I've certainly never tried it.
Even so, I added all of that to the pot:
I brought the whole thing to a boil and then simmered it for a few hours, then skimmed off the fat and put it away. TJOC said to refrigerate it overnight.
A couple of days later, I took the chili back out and heated it back up.
The chili was really good! It wasn't near as sweet as it seemed like it would be with all of the sweet spices (the chocolate, cloves, and cinnamon) but it was very full flavored. The broth was extremely flavorful and I suspect that is partially because of the poaching method.
To make this chili 2-ways, I poured it over spaghetti.
This was extremely painful for me and I imagine that my Italian mother felt a little chill as I poured chili on spaghetti. I will admit it was pretty good though--like a really Americanized sauce.
To make a 3-way (teehee!), I added cheddar:
Another big improvement! I like cheddar on chili and I really like cheese if I'm eating pasta (although, granted, it's usually not cheddar).
To make chili 4-ways, I added diced onions:
I don't really like diced onions, especially not raw. I don't think the onions added anything special.
To elevate the dish to a 5-way, I added pinto beans to the top:
Yum! Another tasty addition if you like beans in your chili (which I do). I think that I would remove the onions and add some crackers but it was really tasty. Has anyone else poured chili over pasta or does that seem strange to everyone else?