Cincinnati-Style Chili

I feel a little blasphemous writing about Midwestern chili on a blog titled “The Austin Gastronomist.”  Chili is the state dish of Texas after all!  Texans are rightly pround of their chili, but we could learn a thing or two from the adventurous Cincinnatians, who traditionally season their chili with cinnamon and cocoa powder.  This dish combines those sweet flavors with spicy peppers and smoky chili powder in a thick, hearty stew.

Cincinnatti-Style Chili
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion
2 bell peppers
1 jalapeno pepper
1 Serrano pepper
1 pound venison, bison, or beef chop
1/4 cup apple juice
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon paprika
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
pinch salt
1 tablespoon cornmeal

Chop onion and, wearing rubber gloves, seed and rib all peppers. Chop the bell peppers and mince the jalapeno and Serrano peppers. Heat oil in a heavy bottomed pot over medium heat and add onions & peppers.  Stir occasionally and cook for about 10 minutes, until vegetables are tender and start to caramelize (turn brown in places).  Meanwhile, chop meat into bite sized pieces.  Add meat to caramelized veggies and cook for about 2 minutes, until meat begins to brown.  Add chili powder, paprika, cumin, cocoa powder, cinnamon, allspice, cayenne and salt to the pot, stirring to distribute; then pour in the apple juice and water.  Bring liquid to a boil, then turn heat to low.  Simmer, covered, for 45 minutes.  Before serving, whisk in cornmeal to thicken chili.  Plate over mashed sweet potatoes, cornmeal mush, or serve traditional Cincinnatti style over spaghetti.

Click here for a printable version of this recipe.

Although this chili was inspired by the Midwest, I  stayed true to my Texas roots by serving it over jalapeno cornmeal mush.  Next time I make this, I’m planning to take a cue from my friend Hilah and do it vegan by substituting mushrooms and beans for the meat.

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5 responses to “Cincinnati-Style Chili

  1. YUM. my mom makes chili that she says is “cincinnati style” and puts short pieces of spaghetti in it, but no cocoa or cinnamon. maybe she just made it up LOL, but that’s the way i make chili now too; i can’t have it any other way.

  2. I had heard that Cinncinatians??? eat chili over spaghetti but just couldn’t wrap my head around it. But then I’ve never been a big chili eater as my Mom only ever made “kit” chili with ground hamburger. This looks tasty!

  3. My college roommate served chili over pasta, but I never really understood it. The cinnamon sounds great though. As does the vegan version. I’d like to try that too!

  4. I think it’s funny that outside of the midwest that eating chili on top of spaghetti is frowned upon 😦 Now, I’m not saying that a good bowl of chili is bad but when eating Cincinnati style, it has to be on spaghetti.

  5. Pingback: Meal Plan 12/22 – 12/28 | The Austin Gastronomist

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