Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Last Night's Dinner: Exotic Influences

I know I'm supposed to be making cookies with my McCormick Spices care package, but remembering the Cincinnati chili I ate at the airport on Saturday on my way home from Books by the Banks, I couldn't resist using some of the cinnamon and allspice to recreate the experience. Don't jump all over me for my inauthentic use of chopped tomatoes instead of tomato sauce (I just think tomato sauce is too sweet and artificial-tasting), or my choice of lean ground sirloin (I don't want to say that the Gold Star airport chili was just a little bit on the greasy side, but...). Remember, I'm from Sag Harbor, by way of New Jersey. To give my dinner a local touch (it is "eat local" week, according to the sign outside of Bay Burger), I used cheddar cheese from Mecox Bay Dairy. Here is the recipe:

Cincinnati Chili
Serves 6

I chose the 4-way variety (spaghetti, chili, beans, cheese). For 3-way chili, leave out the beans. For 5-way chili, add some chopped raw onion along with the beans and cheese as a garnish.

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 onions, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or more to taste
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1 1/2 pounds ground sirloin
1 1/2 cups low-sodium canned chicken broth
1 1/2 cups water
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 teaspoon dark brown sugar
One 15-ounce can chopped tomatoes with juice, pureed in a blender or food processor
1 pound spaghetti
8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
One 15-ounce can red kidney beans, drained, rinsed, and warmed

1. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until softened, about 3 minutes. Stir in teh garlic and cook until fragrant, another minute. Stir in the chili powser, cocoa, oregano, cinnamon, cayenne, allspice, and 1 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring, until the spices become fragrant, about 1 minute.
2. Add the ground sirloin and cook, stirring occasionally and breaking up with a wooden spoon, until the beef has lost its color, about 5 minutes.
3. Stir in the broth, water, vinegar, sugar, and pureed tomatoes. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, and simmer until the chili has thickened, about 45 minutes. Season with salt.
4. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the spaghetti until al dente. Divide among 6 bowls, top with the chili, cheese, and beans, and serve immediately.

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