Lots of it.
And then some more rain.
Add a few floods.
And some more rain.
A bunch more rain.
Don’t forget a significant additional amount of rain.
…This has been our weather pattern for the past three weeks. Add colder than normal temperatures (with the exception of one glorious, magical, sunny, sixty-degree day) and you get an idea of the dreary outdoor conditions around here. Blech.
Today, the boys and I hit the end of our proverbial rope and decided we wouldn’t take this rain lying down*. We combated the four billionth consecutive torrential rainy day by…
*This is a good overall plan because lying down in rain is a drowning hazard. Or so my anxiety-riddled mama brain would say.
Wait for it…
That’s right. We avoided looking at the grey, nasty sky by fixing our gazes firmly on a big, fat, meaty bowl of Cincinnati Chili. (We also made two other seriously decadent treats that will be featured here this week, but that’ll just have to remain a surprise.) Cincinnati Chili will make you believe the skies are blue even if they aren’t. Which they aren’t. Sigh.
Have you ever eaten Cincinnati Chili? Have you ever heard of Cincinnati Chili? Everyone in Cincinnati bear with me for a minute while I clue everyone else in on the glory that is your city’s chili, okay?
Cincinnati Chili is meat. Seriously. It’s meat, more meat, some onions, garlic, other stuff and meat. It’s not a vegetarian friendly option, so save it for nights when your carnivorous buddies are in town. Also? I’m just going to go ahead and get this out of the way. It’s made with chocolate, cinnamon, and nutmeg in additional to the things you’d usually think of; chili powder, salt, pepper, etc… Don’t walk away here. Don’t get weirded out. It is my favorite chili in the entire world. Break it down with me a bit. Chocolate (unsweetened), cinnamon and nutmeg are often combined in traditional Mexican foods. Think of Mole. Mole has those ingredients and roughly five hundred other crazy things.
Allow me to reassure you. You don’t sniff it and say, “Wow! Cinnamon Chocolate Nutmeg Chili. That’s wild!” You sniff it and think, “That is complex. I can’t really identify what is in there, but DANG that smells good. Gimme a fork. Now.”
This brings me to another important defining feature of Cincinnati Chili; You eat it on spaghetti with a fork. Huh? Seriously. Everyone who has had Cincinnati Chili has a favorite way of ordering it. You can choose from the following: (Thank you Wikipedia)
- two-way: spaghetti and chili
- three-way: spaghetti, chili, and shredded cheese
- four-way: spaghetti, chili, shredded cheese, and diced onions
- four-way bean: spaghetti, chili, shredded cheese, and beans
- five-way: spaghetti, chili, shredded cheese, diced onions, and beans
And dear heavenly father, help us. There is more. You can also order:
- cheese coney: hot dog topped with chili, shredded cheese, diced onions, and mustard
- chili cheese fries: French fries topped with chili and shredded cheese
BANG go your blood vessels. Who cares at that point? You’d go out happy.
I can tell you that I’ve eaten each of the above options and I don’t have to drive to Cincinnati (lovely city that it is…) to get them. My homemade Cincinnati Chili is a point of pride for me. The balance of ingredients is perfect. It is equally at home over spaghetti, fries or hot dogs.
Psst. If you find yourself in a Cincy Chili parlor and you want the full experience, be a champ and don’t twirl your spaghetti. They’ll know you’re not native before you can Lady and the Tramp those noodles into your mouth. Cut it with the side of your fork and you’ll blend in like chili.
Post Psssst Script. Detroit folks will back me up on this. Put this on top of a hot dog and what you REALLY have is a Coney. Am I right? Come on, Detroit. Show me some love!
- 2 tablespoons peanut or vegetable oil
- 3 pounds lean ground beef (or venison)
- 1 quart cold water
- 2 large onions, peeled and diced
- 3 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced or crushed
- 1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
- 1½ tablespoons cider vinegar (or red wine vinegar)
- 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
- 2 tablespoons chili powder
- 5 bay leaves
- 1½ tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (preferably Dutch processed)
- 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper (reduce if you don’t like spicy foods)
- 1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon grated nutmeg (preferably fresh)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Cooked spaghetti, rinsed with hot water
- Grated Cheddar cheese
- Diced onions
- Chili beans, heated
- Optional: Oyster crackers to soak up liquid.
- Heat the oil in a heavy pot and brown beef, breaking up into very small pieces.
- Add onions and water and bring to a boil.
- Reduce to a simmer and add all other ingredients and let simmer 1 ½ to 2 hours or until it is as thick as desired. We like ours quite thick.
- Adjust with salt and pepper to taste.
- Remove bay leaves before serving.
- Serve over spaghetti with finely shredded cheddar cheese, chopped onions and kidney beans on top.