|Cincinnati 5-Way Chili|
***Excerpt from "Square Meals": "No one who loves to eat can visit Cincinnati without falling in love with the most eccentric and delicious noodle dish of all--5-Way Chili. Invented by Greek immigrants in the 1920s, it is unique to southern Ohio, and served only in chili parlors, most of which are fluorescent-lighted luncheonettes that haven't changed much since 1950. Nobody in Cincinnati gives out their recipe. It is a dish of startling complexity, so dizzyingly spicy..."
Salt a large cast iron skillet. Turn heat to med and add meat, onions, and garlic. Cook until meat is browned. Add tomato sauce, catsup, water, and vinegar. As mixture begins to boil, add everything else. Adjust spices to taste, adding more salt if it needs perking up, turmeric and cumin for a sweatier chili flavor, cinnamon, cloves, and mace if you want it sweeter, cardamom for more bang, unsweetened chocolate for body. Cover and simmer at very low heat for about 1 hr, stirring and tasting occasionally, adding tomato juice if it is getting too dry to ladle up easily.
The bottom layer is always spaghetti, the thickest you can find. If you have trouble, try using long, thin macaroni like perciatelli. Break into 4" pieces, boil in salted water to which oil has been added. For a touch of swank, melt 1/2 cup of sweet butter into the just-cooked noodles before you dish them out. You will need about 2-3oz per serving. You want them soft enough to cut easily with a fork, but not so soft they lose their oomph. Remember, they are the support layer for four other ingredients. Spread them out to cover the bottom of a small oval plate. Ladle on the chili, enough to cover the noodles. Wash kidney beans and heat with 2 up water, then drain. Spoon a sparse layer atop the chili. Spread onions over beans. Quickly (so it melts) spread cheese to cover everything. Don't skimp. Cheese should completely blanket the plate, enough so that you can pat it into a neat mound with your hands, just the way they do in Cincinnati.
Variations: 3-Way or 4-Way: Omit either beans or onions, or both.
From: Karl E. Moser (KE3NF), email@example.com
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