Cincinnati Chili - and its unfortunate nickname

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Sometimes we just put our foot in our mouth.  It happens to the best of us.

Kennedy told Berlin he was a donut.
Prince Phillip asked Australians if they still threw spears at each other.
The Italian prime minister called Barack Obama young, handsome and tanned.
And then there was that time D asked a group of people if they had ever had a 'three way.'

Okay, get your mind out of the gutter people.  This is a family friendly site.   Jeez y'all!

So, let me back up a bit.

A few years ago, over a happy hour D and a few others were talking DC eats.  See I told you I was going a family friendly direction.  They were getting pretty specific and going into specialized American regional fare and where to get it in DC.  Talk about food nerding it up!  Chili came up.  Texas chili, southwestern chili, beans v. no beans.  You get the picture. 

So naturally D thought of Cincinnati chili.  Which is quite lovely and most commonly enjoyed over noodles and topped with cheese.  But instead of asking if anyone had ever had a Cincinnati chili mac, he used the official Cincinnati chili lingo...

Yes, that's right.  As I was sitting there sipping my drink I had to try to not spit it out as D, without hesitation, asked a group of new friends....  Have you ever had a three way?  


His friends were, naturally, shocked at D's straight forward (and to them out of the blue) question. Thank the Lord D caught on to this SO QUICK!  And while he was red as a rose he was swift to recover and educate his friends that the three way he was speaking of (in the context of a conversation about chili  mind you) was simply Cincinnati Chili served on top of noodles and covered in cheese....  three ingredients thus a three way.

And back to my head... PHEW!  BALL INTERCEPTED ON THE 3 YARD LINE!

D will never live that story down.   Bless his heart.  And he now always refers to his chili around unfamiliar company as a Cincinnati Chili Three Way!

Cincinnati Chili is a regular meal in our house.  I usually make a giant pot and freeze the rest to take out for quick suppers.  It has taken me a couple of years but I think I have my recipe just right now!   Go ahead, make it for yourself and see.

But remember, if you have company over, Ms. Manners would suggest you watch your mouth.

Cincinnati Chili

3 pounds ground beef
Water to cover ground beef
3 onions, finely chopped
1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes
2 cans tomato paste
2 ½ tablespoons vinegar
3 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 ounce unsweetened chocolate
1/4 – 1/3 cup chili powder
3 teaspoons salt (plus more to taste)
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
3 bay leaves

Place the ground beef in a large pan, cover with water, and bring to a boil, stirring and breaking up the beef with a fork to a fine texture.

Slowly boil until the meat is thoroughly cooked, about 30 minutes, then remove from heat and refrigerate in the pan overnight.

The next day, skim the solid fat from the top of the pan, and discard the fat. 

Place the beef mixture over medium heat, and stir in all remaining ingredients. 

Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 3 hours. Add water if necessary to prevent the chili from burning.  Salt and Pepper to taste.  (I usually find it needs more salt.) Chili should be thick and delicious.    

To serve...  pick a way.   
  • Two-way: spaghetti topped with chili (also called "chili spaghetti")
  • Three-way: spaghetti, chili, and cheese
  • Four-way: spaghetti, chili, cheese, and onions
  • Four-way bean: spaghetti, chili, cheese, and beans (beans substituted for the onions)
  • Five-way: spaghetti, chili, cheese, onions, and beans

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