When I was growing up, one of my favorite dinners was "Three-Way Chili" otherwise known as "Cincinnati Chili."
The reason is is called "Three-Way" is that you eat this chili on top of spaghetti and topped with cheese (Three components). There is also Four-Way (add beans) and Five-Way (add raw, diced onions). But the Arpke family always loved "Three-Way" the best.
My dad makes the best Three-Way ever. In fact, I used to say that I wanted to eat this chili at my wedding. Considering my nick-name was "Slop-Slop" while growing up, it is a good thing that I chose NOT to eat this in my wedding dress when I got married.
The thing is, my current Meng family doesn't LIKE "Three-Way." It was too spicy for them and the spaghetti was just weird to my husband (Psh, husband!).
So this recipe is a "Nod"to Cincinnati Chili. There are a few secret spices that make me think of my dad's chili but otherwise, it is just an absolutely delicious (non-spicy!) meat, beans, and tomato chili.
Or, as I have been told at a potluck I took this chili to: "This is the best chili I have ever eaten!"
So here it is: My "Nod to Cincinnati Chili"
Ingredients: 1 large or 2 medium onions, diced 1 lb ground beef 1 lb sausage (breakfast? Sage? spicy Italian? your choice!) 3-4 cloves of garlic (minced) (or a heaping tablespoon from a jar of minced garlic) 3 cans kidney beans, drained and rinsed 2 cans petite diced tomatoes, not drained 2 (8 oz) cans of tomato sauce 1 (6 oz) can tomato paste 5 cups water
Spices: (here's where it gets special)
|Magic Spices (not pictured: Brown Sugar).|
3 TB Chili powder 3 TB brown sugar 2 tsp unsweetened cocoa power* 1 tsp cinnamon* 1 tsp ground cumin 1 tsp dried oregano 1 tsp seasoning salt 1-2 bay leaves
See those stars above? It's the cinnamon and cocoa powder that give this chili the Cincinnati kick! If you want to make this chili with a packet of Chili seasoning from the store, go ahead! But don't forget the cinnamon and cocoa powder (and a bit of brown sugar!)
Make it! (start early in the afternoon so your chili can simmer away for a few hours)
Brown meat and onions in a large skillet over medium/high heat (or you can use your soup pot. I just find that it is easier to cook the meat in skillet). Drain fat and dump into a large soup pot. Key word: large.
Over medium heat, add the garlic and cook until fragrant. Add beans, tomato products, and water. Stir.
Add spices in a small bowl and mix until combined. Or just dump them in the pot. I just like the step of stirring all the spices together and then pouring such a delightful mixture into the pot.
This is where the magic happens. Your chili will turn from a tomato-red to a deep, dark, delicious, chili red. The cocoa powder is the key here to such a rich, dark color.
Bring your chili to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Cock a lid over the chili, allowing a vent and simmer that baby for 2-4 hours, stirring occasionally. Your chili should get nice and thick. Before serving taste and adjust salt if needed.
|My chili is simmering away on the stove. See that deep color? Mmm!|
(I have made this in a crock pot too (cook meat and onions first, then dump everything in) but it doesn't get as thick as simmering it on the stove. Still yummy though!).
Enjoy the way your house smells all afternoon as you breathe in the heavenly scents.
Serve your chili plain or, the way I like it: topped with sour cream, shredded cheddar-jack cheese, and a handful of fritos.