Monday, January 20, 2014

Cincinnati Chili is Chocolate Lover's Chili


Shivering from the chill, she plunked down at the table and eyed the chili with a chilly look. "This sure looks like weird chili to me", she thought. The deep brown chili stared her down and dared her to chill out. "Just one bite of me and you will warm your bones and relax. For real. Let's do some chillin', " This chili muttered. (Well, that is, if chili could talk.) The air was filled with the essence of cloves and cumin, allspice and cayenne. The aroma from the chili was enough to send her over the top."Whoa, baby," she thought, "This is a chili that would make me take a field trip to Cincinnati just to find the real thing."

This is a lot of chills to come out of one bowl of chili. And Cincinnati chili, no less. Ever since I made my Chili Mac last year, I've become kind of obsessed. I never loved chili as a child. I remember it as a kidney bean thing and I am no lover of kidney beans. But having married a chili lover, I've since become one. Once I discovered the myriad of ways to make chili, I was quickly won over. Truth be told, I love Cincinnati chili. Manservant may love his Texas style chili, but Cincinnati chili is hands down, my favorite.

A few weeks ago I ran across the Mast Brothers Chocolate cookbook at the library. This is such a great book and another one I'd love to own. I hope no one requests it because I'd love to keep it awhile and make about a zillion things from it. Filled with recipes like Orange Nib Crusted Salmon and Cocoa Butternut Squash Soup and even a Cocoa Balsamic Vinaigrette - well, this is not just a dessert cookbook. This is a chocolate lover's cookbook and a cookbook lover's cookbook, too. It is a great story about how the Mast Brothers came to be. Let's just say that one day I hope to find myself in Brooklyn eating their chocolate. These guys even sailed to South America to get their cacoa beans. I mean, really? This is a good read and it will make you real, real hungry. Plus, with a forward from Thomas Keller, well you know it's got to be good. And did I mention these brothers are kind of cute. Well, I'm just sayin'.



So it is that I found myself cooking their recipe for Cincinnati chili. Their recipe is kind of like an over the top gourmet restaurant's chili. It is truly simple to make and fun to see how the flavors build on each other. When you start the tastin', which I do all along the way, it doesn't seem to be getting there. But when you reach the conclusion, with the adding of the sherry vinegar and stirring in of the dark chocolate, well it's kind of like an opus gone wild. It just reaches a crescendo and keeps ascending from there. This is not unsimilar to when I make mole, only this is a  whole lot simpler.The flavors just build off of each other until your mouth is so full of goodness, you just can't take it anymore. Well, at least until the next time you are ready to feed your face.


Now I love my Chili Mac, but that chili might be more of what you find in a diner. This chili is cozy and comforting and is a totally different experience. This chili is one to savor and eat slow. Well, I say that, but I'm not sure. You might want to ladle it directly into your mouth. It would be fun to compare them side to side. I made the Mast Brothers Cincinnati chili with Ghiradelli chocolate. Such travesty, I know. Alas, I know not where to find Mast Brothers chocolate here in colorful Colorado. Would it make this chili taste even better? I really don't know. But it is damn good even with my friend Ghiradelli.



One? more thing I should tell ya. I started this post last week and then Alex showed up. Alex, who in the span of less than 48 hours had his car fixed with carpooling from Mom, built a bed frame with help from Dad and stained it with help from Mom, and ransacked our home for art work and miscellaneous pots and pans. That Alex, who is now living in Vail, on Gore Creek, working at Matsihisu, kept me from finishing this post. I should mention that if ransacking, fixing a car, and building a bed aren't enough, he also bottled beer (Tricerahops) with his Dad until 12:30AM Saturday morning in between running over to a shady part of town to find an Iphone off of Craig's List. And then the guy never showed, which was probably a good thing, since it was a maybe too good to be true price. That Alex who also went to Costco to buy a microwave to take back in between buying bottles to put the beer in and finishing the bed, thought he would be finished in 24 hours so he could ski with his buds on Saturday. Well, he didn't leave until Saturday at 12:30 pm because he was too busy and so were we, which is why I didn't send this post to you sooner.

Not that I minded. Alex has a way of making us both feel quite alive and the music is always going when he's around, which is a good thing.  Though it did feel AND look like a tornado had hit once he left, yes,that Alex Odie, kept me from finishing this post.  And well, in the interim this chili just happened to show up today at Leite's Culinaria, which just tells me that great minds think alike. Right?



Cincinnati Chili
From: Mast Brothers Chocolate, A Family Cookbook, 2013
Yield: 8 servings
Total Time: About 2 hours including cooking time
Ingredients:
2 T vegetable oil
1 medium, finely chopped onion
2 lbs ground beef (I used turkey)
1/4 c chili powder (I used 1 1/2T ancho and 1 1/2 T Mexican red)
1 t cumin
1 t allspice
1/2 t ground cloves
2 bay leaves
1/4 t cayenne pepper
1 1/2 c tomato puree
4 c beef stock
2 1/2 oz chopped dark chocolate
2 T sherry vinegar
2 pinches or to taste sea salt
2 grinds of black pepper

Directions:
In a large pot, heat oil and saute onion over medium heat until translucent. Add beef or turkey and cook until browned. Stir in chili powder, cumin, allspice, cloves, bayleaf, cayenne and tomato puree. Cover and let simmer for 20 minutes. Add stock. Let simmer, uncovered, for 1 hour. Add chocolate and vinegar. Stir until chocolate has melted in. Remove bay leaves and season with salt and pepper. If you choose to serve this Cincinnati style you need to boil some spaghetti, chop some onion, grate some cheese. Beans if you want them. I serve it by putting a serving of spaghetti on a plate. I top that with a bit of grated cheddar. Then I add some chili. Then some beans. Then more cheddar. Then onions. Garnish with crackers. Or those little bitty oyster crackers. Stir it up. Eat it. And if you are lucky you might have a Tricerahops ready to go!

More Chili Things:
Chili Lover's Meatloaf

And here's one to pin for future chili days:







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25 comments:

  1. That's a real fun post, Abbe!
    I was roaring with laughter reading about your chili variations.
    Alex departure reminded me how our home looked like when our eldest left for college :)
    The chili looks gorgeous, so are the colors.

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    1. Thanks Daniela! The problem when they leave, at least for us, is that they always come home with more than they left with! And in Alex's case, he is always coming and going. When he graduated from college, he even left stuff behind, but he always tells me he doesn't want that much stuff!

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  2. By golly, Abbe! This is beautiful. It has the loveliest shade of brown-red. I have never tried eating chocolate this way...this looks sOooOo yummy. Can't wait to experiment.

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    1. Sharon, i know you probably don't see chili in your part of the world but it is really good! I'd try making a Szechuan pepper chili. I've been wanting to experiment with that! Thanks!

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  3. You know, with Colorado's new, um, herbal laws I suspect a lot of people are going to start hearing their chili talk to them. Just sayin'. :D I've had Cincinnati Chili on my list of recipes to perfect ever since I started by blog. Still haven't gotten around to it, but I'll certainly use yours for ideas. This looks terrific! Thanks.

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    1. Herbal Laws? I like that. I could see we'd have a lot of fun if you and Mrs. KR headed our way! You know I never made Cincinnati chili until last year, which means I have a lot of catching up to do!

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  4. I have never had a chilli prepared with chocolate and I am totally fascinated with the creative combination of flavours. Your chilli looks droolworthy, Abbe.

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    1. I think you will love it Angie. Chocolate gives it a very rich taste. Use one with a high cocoa component and you will love it!

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  5. A real fun post! This chili is incredible. I just can imagine how the cloves and chocolate really worked with the heat. Well why not ? Look at some of the Mole's or Mexican hot cocoa's and chili and chocolate together have a lot going for it. Sending some warm breezes your way.

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    1. It actually has been very warm here, Bam. But Thursday they are saying snow. Thanks so much!

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  6. Abbe, I think if we opened up our herbal cafe then Mr and Mrs Riffs may head out this way :)
    This looks wonderful! Like you I wasn't a chilli fan but I married a guy who also loves his chilli. He used to be the one to make it before but then I took over and made it better. I add chocolate too, but not like this one, This one is gorgeously dark and glossy. I love my chilli on pasta, they go so well together.
    Thanks for asking about the kid, all are well now, well somewhat, still a bunch of wheezing and sneezing going on, but all back in school tomorrow.
    Take care Abbe! So glad your baby came down to see you. xx

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    1. This has a lot of chocolate. And not cocoa. Makes a difference.I'm telling you that I adore chili on pasta. If my mom would have served it to me as a child like that I probably would have loved chili back then! Will talk soon!

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  7. i've never had cincinnati chili: never! i would love to try it though: i think we must be more prone to making the texas style here, although i don't know why. it looks gorgeous! and i suppose kids will bring a whirlwind of activity to the house when they come home even when they're older: i never thought about that, since i just assume the whirlwind only happens when they're little, but it gives me something to always look forward to when the Wee starts to grow. :)

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  8. I love Cincinnati Chili but I hardly ever make it because my kids won't eat it. Yours looks delicious! Love the chocolate addition.

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    1. Did you try putting it over pasta? Or on a tortilla? Or for nachos? We mothers have our ways!

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  9. Yep, that's the same reason my husband loves Cincinnati chili - no beans! I will definitely add the chocolate next time - I absolutely LOVE the combination of flavors of this chili - I think the chocolate would put it over the top.

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    1. I like beans now, but not back then. And chocolate really works. Much richer and better than cocoa! thanks, Biz!

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  10. Chocolate - how interesting! I've never had cincinnati chili - wonder if I can make it non-meat? Sounds hardy and warming!

    p.s. talking chili - that line made me smile :)

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    1. I think you could. Try some beans or some grains, like barley or farro, or even some type of tempeh or tofu. Needs to be hearty, though. Use some strong vegetable broth in place of meat broth. Let me know how it turns out! I like it when people smile!

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  11. My mom grew up in Cincinnati so she loves this kind of chili. Chili has never been my thing so I used to just get the spaghetti with cheese and onions, no chili.

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    1. You know what I say Laura? Whatever works! I'd love to try the real thing, though!

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  12. It is great chili, Shannon! And so is the chili mac. It would depend on my mood as far as what I'd like better! Each age brings a different whirlwind. You will see...

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  13. This is chili week in blogdom, I think - chili recipes everywhere! Makes me glad, because I never get tired of trying new ones. I love Cinci chili - in some ways it has a lot of the same flavor notes that I love in a good mole. Those warm spices are very welcome in the middle of the winter too - thanks!

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  14. Such a nice chile Abbe...specially with the addition of dark chocolate...I will have to try adding chocolate next time making chili.
    Thanks for the recipe and hope you are enjoying your week :D

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  15. okay, i've been trolling your recipes! wow, all of these are amazing!! I'm going to have to come back and try some of these :)

    #sitsblogging

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