A Cincinnati-ish, Mole-esque Chili

As mentioned, here is the recipe for the chili picture posted yesterday.  It reminds me of a mole what with all the spices, cocoa, and heat.  Really quite tasty and satisfying, and very filling.  It also freezes well.  This will serve around 6 adults, probably with some left over.

Cincinnati-Style Chili, My Way

Extra virgin olive oil
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
1 ½-2 lbs. beef shanks (Or short ribs, which are easier to find, but a lot more expensive, being so popular and all.)
1 large yellow onion, diced
A few cloves of garlic, smashed and chopped (I used about 5.)
1 chile in adobo with a little sauce, chopped
1-1/2 tablespoons chipotle chili powder
1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground cloves
½ teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon celery seed
1 dried bay leaf
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder

1 28 oz. can whole peeled tomatoes with juice, chopped (Or you can crush them by hand, a very messy but oddly satisfying task.)

2 15 oz. cans beans (I used 1 can of garbanzo (chickpeas) and 1 can of cannellini beans, I believe, because that’s what I had in the pantry.  Red kidney beans would be more traditional, but I really don’t like them.)

1 pound dried spaghetti

A giant pile of shredded cheddar cheese (I used a Widmer 1 year aged and shredded it.  Please don’t buy the pre-shredded junk.  It is just that: junk.)

Season your beef shanks liberally with salt and pepper.  In a large heavy-bottomed pot (a Dutch-oven is perfect for this), heat enough olive oil to cover the bottom of the pan over medium-high heat.  When the oil is hot, add the shanks and brown them on all sides.  (This will really take you several minutes, and is pretty boring, but trust me; the browning makes a big flavor difference.  You’re looking at about 4 minutes per side, to get a really good brown.  I usually check the Facebooks or something while waiting.)  Once the meat is nicely browned, remove from the pan and place on a plate. 

If there is not enough residual fat left in the pan, add a little more olive oil.  (You will probably need to lower you heat a little at this time, maybe down to medium, so you don’t scorch things.)  Add the onions to the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until they soften and become translucent.  Add the garlic, adobo chile, and all spices to the pan and cook just until you can really smell the garlic.  Add the cocoa powder and tomatoes with their juices and give it all a good stir.  Season the mixture with some salt and pepper.

Bring the pot to a boil and then turn down to a simmer.  Add the meat and any juices left on the plate back to the pot.  Let the whole thing simmer for quite a while (I don’t have an exact time, there never is an exact time, so just make sure you have at least a couple of hours to let this cook!), until the meat is quite tender.  Remove the shanks from the pot and chop or shred the meat off the bones. 

Start a pot of salted, boiling water for the pasta.

Add the meat back to the pot and add the beans as well.  Check the seasoning and add salt and pepper if needed.  Let the pot continue to simmer while you cook the pasta.  Once the pasta is cooked, drain it and douse it in olive oil to keep it from sticking.

To assemble:  Mound some spaghetti in the bottom of a bowl.  Spoon the chili over the pasta, and add as much cheddar as your heart desires. 


Chad H. said...

Can't wait to try this at my house. I'll be the only one to eat it, but I love Cincy chili.

Jennifer Grubb said...

I never liked it either until I made it myself!