Ask a Korean: What About Cincinnati?

Is that where Cincinnati Chili comes from?

When in Cincinnati…

I haven’t been.  But I should do some research before I go…

Shall we dance?

Like make some Cincinnati Chili…

As a recent immigrant in the 1970’s, my mother took to the “All-American” cooking of the time with a good-natured gusto.  She embraced the products of the day––cheese-in-a-can, Spam, Stove Top, and condiments too!––featuring them often in her dinner repertoire.  Although, this chili feels retro––any recipe that calls for Worcestershire sauce and ketchup has that feel––its home-iness is surely timeless.  I think my mom would have liked this recipe.

Sir Sirloin

Thanks Cincinnati!  Your chili is very good, especially when I substitute ground beef with sirloin, and I appreciate the plethora of spices that go in: from cloves to cinnamon to cumin, “I get a kick out of you!”

Smells like home

I did make it a little “Brooklyn” by adding double concentrate tomato paste in lieu of tomato sauce, giving it a more assertive tomato flavor.   Hey, fuggedaboutit!

“I [double] concentrate on you…”

Oh, and lest I forget, you’re in a Swing State.  Not in the top five (says the Washington Post), but, as of last week, in his fivethirtyeight blog, Nate Silver says you’re one of the most important:  We really want to know how will Ohio go on Tuesday?  He says there’s a 79.9% chance you’ll go Obama…

But if it turns out you went the other way, I won’t hold that against Cincinnati.

Cincinnati Chili (By Way of Brooklyn)

(adapted from Beans by Bonnie Tandy Leblang & Joanne Lamb Hayes)

This makes a big batch so be prepared for leftovers. I made it right before Hurricane Sandy so we were eating it for days!

The ingredients

2-3 tsp oil, safflower or olive

2 onions, chopped (leave some raw for topping)

1 lb sirloin, chopped or ground beef

2-3 cups tomato, fresh or canned, chopped

2 tbls tomato concentrate

2-4 tbls ketchup

2 tbls brown sugar

4-6 tsp chili powder, I used chipotle powder

2 tsp Worcestershire

1 tsp ground cinnamon, ginger, cumin,

1 tsp dry mustard

1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

1/4 tsp ground cloves

salt, to taste

29 oz can of kidney beans  (or prep dried beans if you’d rather)

1 lb spaghetti

shredded cheese, use your judgement

black pepper, optional

The steps

1. In a big saucepan, heat the oil and then add beef and chopped onion.  Saute until beef is browned, 5 minutes.  Drain off the fat if there’s a lot.

2. Add tomatoes and paste, ketchup, brown sugar, chili powder, Worcestershire sauce, cinnamon, ginger, cumin, mustard, nutmeg, cloves and salt.  Bring to a boil over high heat. Stir constantly.  Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes.

3. Prepare the spaghetti in the meantime.  Drain well.

4.  Here is where it becomes By Way of Brooklyn.  The recipe says it’s traditional to grind the beef in a blender or food processor, but I didn’t want to do that, especially since I used sirloin instead of ground beef.  And I also put all the beans directly into the beef mixture before serving.

5.  Top each serving of spaghetti with the chili and bean mixture, chopped onion and shredded cheese.  Grind fresh black pepper on top if you wish.


3 thoughts on “Ask a Korean: What About Cincinnati?

  1. When I first moved here and tried the Cincinnati chili, I was initially turned off. However, once I stopped thinking about it in terms of “regular” chili, and more as a regional speciality, it began to grow on me. It’s to the point now where a small group of us at the office make (almost) weekly trips to Skyline to get our fix of Cincinnati chili!

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