Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Bison Cincinnati Chili

I never had heard of Cincinnati Chili until I rented the first season of Cook's Country from Netflix. Honestly, I probably never would have tried it unless my mother had begged me to make it for dinner. Of course I made some modifications to the recipe, but it was very spicy (not hot spicy, just lots of spices) and really filling.

The ingredient list is long, but the recipe is really easy to put together. The recipe makes 6 generous servings. What distinguishes this chili from others is that

  • the meat isn't browned, it's cooked in liquid
  • you serve it over spaghetti (awe-some!)

1 lb. ground bison (original recipe calls for 1 1/2 lbs. of 80% lean ground chuck*)
2 Tbsp. canola oil
2 medium onions, minced
2 medium garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbsp. chili powder
2 tsp. dried oregano
2 tsp. cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground cayenne pepper (I went a little shy on this)
1/2 tsp. ground allspice
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
2 cups tomato sauce
2 cups chicken broth
2 cups water
2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar (original recipe calls for cider vinegar, but I couldn't find any in the house)
2 tsp. dark brown sugar
1-15 oz. can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
Hot sauce-optional (I didn't put any in)

Spaghetti (you can add butter to it)
Shredded cheddar cheese
Chopped white onion

Heat a large pot over medium heat and add the canola oil. Once the oil is hot, add the onions and cook until they are soft and brown on the edges (this takes about 10 minutes). Add the garlic to the onions and cook for about one minute, or until the garlic is fragrant.

Then, add the chili powder, oregano, cocoa, cinnamon, cayenne, allspice, black pepper, and 1 teaspoon of salt. Stir stir stir :-) until the spices are fragrant, only about 30 seconds. Add the tomato sauce, broth, water, vinegar and sugar to the pot and scrape up the brown bits from the bottom of the pan.

Add the bison meat (*see the note at the bottom of this page if using beef. This is where I deviated from the recipe-- I thought bison meat would be lean enough not to make the chili greasy. It was pretty lean, but I still had to skim some fat off the top. Next time I'll blanch it). Increase the heat to high, and once the mixture starts to boil, kick the heat back down to a simmer. Stir the mixture occasionally until the chili has thickened (it took about 1 1/2 hours).

Here is another deviation from the Cook's Country instructions: the kidney beans are traditionally a topping, but I just added them into the chili for about 30 minutes before serving. (Everybody at our house wanted beans, so why not throw them in the mix?)

Season with the salt (and hot sauce) to suit your taste.

Serve over spaghetti and top with the cheese and onion (and beans if you don't want them in the chili).

*If using ground beef, you need to get rid of some of the fat so the chili isn't greasy. Boil 2 quarts of water and 1 teaspoon of salt in a pot. Then add the meat, and stir stir stir until the meat separates into strands. When the foam from the meat rises to the top of the water, drain the meat in a strainer and set it aside*

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