As most of you know, I grew up in Louisiana. Washington D.C. is the most north I have ever been able to visit. Therefore I had never heard of or eaten this widely beloved dish until I read about it in Cook's Illustrated. I was very intrigued and tried it soon after. I immediately fell in love with it. I start to crave it every time I am reminded of it. I cannot imagine how I would feel if I had grown up eating at Skyline Chili, or some other such place.
Basically it is a type of chili that is spiced with a little cinnamon and allspice. It is served over spaghetti and topped with your choice of sharp cheddar cheese, kidney beans, raw onions, and/or oyster crackers. I know to those of you who have never tried it, it might sound odd. I have officially converted my meat and potatoes husband though, he loves it as much as I do. I wouldn't mind letting some of you in on this delicious dish as well.
Here is a picture of my most recent 5-way. That means I prefer it with all the available toppings. Plus, I love to add a little Frank's Hot Sauce on top as well... Some of you might know that Cook's Country put out a version as well. This CI recipe is immensely better to me. The meat blanching step is essential to it's success.
2 teaspoons table salt or more to taste
1 1/2 pounds ground beef chuck
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 medium onions, chopped fine
2 medium cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons cocoa
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 cups water
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 teaspoons dark brown sugar
2 cups plain canned tomato sauce
hot pepper sauce
1 pound spaghetti, cooked, drained, and tossed with 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
12 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1 can red kidney beans, drained, rinsed, and warmed
1 medium white onion, chopped fine
1. FOR THE CHILI: Bring 2 quarts of water and 1 teaspoon salt to a boil in a large saucepan. Add the ground beef, stirring vigorously to separate the meat into individual strands. As soon as the foam from the meat rises to the top (this takes about 30 seconds and before the water returns to a boil, drain the meat into a strainer and set it aside.
2. Rinse and dry the empty saucepan. Set the pan over medium heat and add the oil. When the oil is warm, add the onions and cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are soft and browned around the edges, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in the chili powder, oregano, cocoa, cinnamon, cayenne, allspice, black pepper, and the remaining 1 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring constantly, until the spices are fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the broth, water, vinegar, sugar, and tomato sauce, scraping the pan bottom to remove any browned bits.
3. Add the blanched ground beef and increase the heat to high. As soon as the liquid boils, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the chili is deep red and has thickened slightly, about 1 hour. Adjust the seasonings, adding salt and hot pepper sauce to taste. (The chili can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days. Bring to a simmer over medium-low heat before serving.)
4. TO SERVE: Divide the buttered spaghetti among individual bowls. Spoon the chili over the spaghetti and top with the cheese, beans, and onion. Serve immediately.