Monday, January 4, 2010

Buckeye Chili.

I have never once had a nice time in Ohio.  I'm sure it's a great state and all but the Buckeye State doesn't seem to like me very much. During my "I'm so punk I refuse to shower, college is for suckers, and I'm almost eighteen years old so I know everything" phase I decided to leave home and have a go at living in the open plains of the good ole Midwest.  I packed up my few belongings and headed out for St. Louis, Misery (oh sorry, I meant Missouri).  The run down city had it's charm but there wasn't much to do.  Hell, throwing broken televisions off an abandoned railroad station bridge and blasting them with shotguns becomes monotonous after a while.  It seemed like every other week my friends and I would go on a road trip that inevitably led us to Ohio.  Let's see, what are some of my experiences in Ohio?  Get beat up by the police for loitering.  Check.  Get chased by a pack of vicious skinheads.  Check.  Having the tire of your Honda ripped off by a rogue cinderblock while driving 75 mph on the highway.  Check.  It seemed like every trip to Ohio ended in tears yet we somehow always ended up coming back.  Perhaps the state wanted to tell me something.  Perhaps it wanted to tell me how awesome it's chili was.  If only I hadn't been a vegetarian at the time maybe I would've listened.  I've long since moved out of the middle of the country and in my adult years I have come to appreciate the bounty that the midwest including Ohio has to offer.  I just wonder what horrible experience would befall me should I return?  Would I drown in a burning river or maybe get swept up by a twister?  Or perhaps the Ohio curse been lifted?  Maybe one day, I'll find out.

Did someone say Cincinnati style chili?  Why yes, I sure did.  So, a friend of mine gave me some fresh venison (along with some black bear but that's another story) that her dad recently hunted.  I was thinking about all of the tasty things I could do with it and decided that I needed to make chili.  Perfect for a cold, wet, winter day.  "Venison chili would be delicious" I thought to myself.  So I scoured through my semi-organized folders of recipes that I've collected over the years and I came upon a tomato paste (or blood) stained recipe for Cincinnati style chili.  I made some adjustments, replaced the ground beef with ground venison, switched out the sirlion for well marbled top round, and added a few ingredients that I thought would enhance the stew.  The little hint of cinnamon and coffee in this chili gives it a unique flavor that will blow your mind a little bit and the fact that it is served over spaghetti and covered in cheddar cheese is pure genius.  Midwest cooking at it's finest.  People give this kind of American cooking a bad reputation but I have to say, it's not the food that makes us unhealthy, it's the amount we eat.  What's worse, a bowl of chili, pasta, and cheese or a croissant made with a pound of butter and filled with chocolate?  I say enjoy it all, just don't be such a pig about it.  Anyways, I'm not going to lecture you how to eat.  I am going to tell you how to make the best bowl of chili you've ever had in your life.

Cincinnati Venison Chili
serves 6-8

2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 large coarsely onions, chopped
4 minced garlic cloves
1 lb ground venison
1 lb. top round, cut into 1" cubes
3 Tbsp. chili powder (I use New Mexican chili powder)
2 tsp. ground cumin
2 tsp. smoked paprika (pimenton)
3/4 tsp. cayenne
1/4 tsp. ground allspice
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. tumeric
1/4 tsp. ground coriander
1/4 tsp. ground cardamon
1 8oz. can tomato sauce
1 Tbsp tomato paste
1 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 Tbsp. molasses
4 cups beef stock
1 ½ cups dark beer
½ cup strong brewed coffee
2 Tbsp. cider vinegar
2 cans red kidney beans
Salt and freshly ground pepper

cooked spaghetti
green onion, sliced
cheddar cheese, grated
oyster crackers

In a heavy Dutch oven or pot, cook the onions in oil over moderate heat, stirring until they are softened. Add the garlic and cook for one minute. Add the beef and venison and brown them lightly on all sides. Add chili powder and other spices. Cook mixture for one minute. Add Tomato paste and cook for one minute. Stir in tomato sauce, cocoa, molasses, beef broth, beer, coffee, water, and vinegar. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or until thickened. Add beans with ½ hour left. Serve over cooked spaghetti and top with green onion, cheese, and oyster crackers.  This chili will be even better the next day.


el greco said...

Really enjoy your blog, just re-discovered it. Your recommended restaurant list is not extensive, but I agree with almost every one (with just a couple that I might not have included, but everyone has their own opinion.) I know everyone probably suggests restaurants for you to include on your list, but the following are just 2 that to me seem very consistent with your other choices, that is: a good ambience; high quality, inventive food and a good price/value relationship, here they are: La Medusa and La Cote.


Violet said...

Thanks. Oh I know, my 'where to eat' list is definitely not comprehensive. It's just a sample of some of the places I like. I've yet to eat at the restaurants you listed but I've heard good things. Perhaps you've inspired me to add a few more of my favorite places.