Monday, January 11, 2010

Cincinnati Five Way Chili

Cincinnati Five Way Chili is a spice intensive recipe that we absolutely love at our house.  We make it at least once a year, and thank Mr. Bryant every time for finding the recipe for us. 

There is a long history related to Cincinnati Five Way, but the most interesting that we have found follows - 

In 1922, a Macedonian immigrant, Tom Athanas Kiradjieff settled in Cincinnati with his brother, John. He opened a hot dog stand, which he named 'Empress' and sold hot dogs and Greek food. He did a lousy business because, at that time, the large majority of the inhabitants were of German heritage, and nobody in the area knew anything about Greek food, and weren't thrilled by it.

Tom was not to be defeated. He took a Greek stew, maintained the Mediterranean spices of Cinnamon and Cloves, changed the meat to ground beef, added other spices, such as chili powder, to the mix and began to sell this stew over spaghetti and called it 'Chili.' It proved to be a successful experiment. He also came up with the idea of selling his Chili in 'ways'.

Today, Cincinnati Chili is still assembled and sold the way Tom used to sell his: 
  • Two Way means spaghetti topped with chili
  • Three Way is spaghetti topped with chili and grated cheddar cheese
  • Four Way is spaghetti topped with chili, grated cheese and chopped onions
  • Five Way is kidney beans or chili beans, heated separately, placed on the plate then topped with spaghetti, chili, onions and grated cheese.

There are lots of ways to interesting recipes for Cincinnati Five Way, but our favorite is below.

This year, 2010, we are having this yummy chili for family dinner on Wednesday.  So we will prepare in advance by doing an inventory of the entire spice cabinet (we need mace!  egad!), make the meal on Tuesday, and heat it up for all to enjoy on Wednesday.  It is always yummiest the second day, seems like.  Cooking photos and tips coming (on Tuesday).  So for today, here is the recipe....

1 pound medium ground meat (chuck, beef, turkey)
2 medium onions, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup tomato sauce
2 T ketchup
1 cup water
1 T red wine vinegar
1 T chili powder
1 T paprika
1 t ground black pepper
1/2 ounce unsweetened chocolate, grated
1/2 t ground cumin
1/2 t turmeric
1/2 t marjoram
1/2 t allspice
1/2 t nutmeg
1/2 t cinnamon
1/4 t ground cloves
1/4 t mace
1/4 t ground coriander
1/4 t ground cardamom
1/2 dry bay leaf, crumbled
1 t salt
Tomato Juice as needed
9 ounces thick spaghetti, cooked and buttered
1 (16  ounce) can kidney beans, heated
2 chopped onions
1 pound finely grated Cheddar cheese

Salt large skillet.  Turn heat to medium, add meat, onion, and garlic.  Cook until all meat is browned.  Add tomato sauce, water, vinegar.  As mixture begins to boil, add remaining spices. 

Adjust to taste, adding more salt if it needs perking up, cumin for a hotter chili flavor, cinnamon and mace if you want it sweeter, cardamom for more bang, unsweetened chocolate for body.

Cover and simmer at very low hear for about an hour, stirring and tasting occasionally, adding tomato juice if it is getting too dry to ladle up easily.

(This is where we will stop, giving the chili a chance to "age" overnight in the refrigerator.)

To construct the plate of Five-Way, layer the spaghetti on a place (a small oval plate is traditional), top it with chili, then with a sparse layer of beans, then onions.  Put on the cheese while it is still hot, and serve immediately, with oyster crackers on the side.

If desired, omit either the beans or onions or both, for three-way or four-way chili.

Yum, coming up!

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