I know I’m getting acclimated to Salvadoran weather because I do things like put on sweatshirt as soon as the sun goes down and the temperature drops below 70 degrees. Last weekend I met some people to run at 5:30 a.m. The sun wasn’t up yet and it was maybe 65 degrees. I wrapped my arms around myself and said, “Brr — I’m cold!” To which one of my running companions replied, “It’s 60 degrees! It is not cold!”And sure enough, once the sun peeked out over the horizon and we started
climbing a mountain running up a large hill, I broke into a sweat and remembered that no, it is not cold in El Salvador — not even close.But that doesn’t mean I can’t conjure up memories of chilly autumn air and crispy leaves with one of my favorite cold-weather recipes: Cincinnati chili.
Cincinnati chili, chili-mac style (over spaghetti noodles).I’ll admit to feeling pangs of jealousy scrolling through my Facebook feed and seeing all my friends clad in jackets and scarves and cute knee-high boots and all the fall fashion that I love and miss. But then I remember that fall in DC lasts for like, a week, and then it gets dark and cold and I start wishing for spring.Getting into the fall spirit with autumn-themed placemats, napkins and napkin rings (gifts from my sister and mother-in-law).Anyway, back to chili. Since we received all our pots and pans and spices and cooking utensils, I’ve been spending more time in the kitchen (but we still have our regular supply of homemade pupusas, don’t you worry).This Food Network Cincinnati Chili recipe (modified slightly below) is one of my all-time favorite recipes. It is in my regular rotation of cold-weather dishes and it’s great for entertaining larger crowds or dinner (and lunch, and possibly dinner again) for two. The great thing is that you can change up the recipe and serve it chili-mac style over spaghetti noodles, on its own for a smaller meal or with all the fixings — topped with cheese and sour cream and served with a side of cornbread.
Chocolate is key in this chili recipe.I also sometimes substitute lean ground turkey for beef and even Kail, who swears that turkey is just not an adequate substitute for beef, can’t taste the difference and appreciates the healthier alternative.Cincinnati ChiliModified from the Food NetworkPrep Time: 40 minutesCooking Time: 25 minutesServes: 6-8Ingredients
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 onion, diced
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tbsp chili powder
- 2 tbsp paprika
- 1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp ground allspice
- 1/2 tsp ground coriander
- 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1/4 tsp ground cloves*
- 1 1/2 lbs ground beef or ground turkey
- Kosher salt
- 1 6-oz can tomato sauce
- 1 14.5-oz can diced tomatoes
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 tbsp chopped unsweetened chocolate
- 1 tbsp cider or red wine vinegar
- 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- Freshly ground pepper
- 1 19-oz can kidney beans, drained and rinsed**
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 1 lb grated cheddar cheese (optional)
- cooked spaghetti (optional)
*Pro-tip: Pre-measure all the dry spices (chili powder through cloves) and mix in a small bowl before turning on the stove. It also helps to chop the chocolate up, particularly if you’re also cooking spaghetti noodles and/or cornbread or another side while the chili is simmering.**I couldn’t find kidney beans here in San Salvador so I used red beans instead, and it turned out OK.Directions
- Heat oil in a medium Dutch oven or heavy pot over medium heat. Add chopped onions and garlic and cook until soft, stirring, about 5 minutes.
- Add the chili powder, paprika, cumin, allspice, coriander, cinnamon, cayenne and cloves. Cook, stirring, until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes.
- Add the beef and cook the mixture, stirring, until the beef is no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon salt.
- Add the tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, bay leaf and 1 1/2 cups water; simmer the mixture, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until slightly thicker, 5 to 10 minutes.
- Add the chocolate, vinegar and Worcestershire and cook until the mixture is thickened but still soupy, about 15 more minutes.
- Discard the bay leaf and season with freshly ground pepper to taste.
- Serve over cooked spaghetti and top with cheese.