Thursday, October 20, 2011
I officially declare this meal "most surprising." We went with the Food Network version of "official Ohio food" and prepared Skyline Chili. Chili on spaghetti is unusual enough, but this chili recipe, which includes grated unsweetened chocolate, allspice, cinnamon and cloves really pushes the envelope.
I halved the recipe and used fresh garlic, but otherwise followed it exactly. This was an easy Tuesday night meal--I put the chili together, took one kid to orchestra practice and let it simmer. By the time we returned, it was time to prepare the pasta and put it on the table. When I got back, Marc looked concerned. "That chili is weird," he declared. I mentally went through the contents of our refrigerator, wondering what we would eat if this turned out to be a complete disaster. I tasted the simmering chili and, he was right, it was weird. The cinnamon and chocolate were stronger than I expected, and it lacked the thick, rich consistency I expected of chili. It seemed unbalanced.
Despite our concerns, we powered through and served the chili and spaghetti with the traditional accompaniments: grated cheddar cheese and diced onions. Kidney beans are also traditional, but I didn't happen to have those in the pantry.
To assemble this dish, top your spaghetti with chili and shredded cheese. Chopped onions and beans are extra options. The kids both stopped with cheese, Marc and I included onions. Now comes the "surprising" part--this was incredibly good. Somehow, that unbalanced (weird) chili, blended with the bland pasta and sharp cheddar turned into a well rounded flavor combination. The cheddar offset the sweet cinnamon, cloves and allspice and the pasta provided that satisfying breadiness that you get when you add saltines to traditional chili. I don't know exactly why it worked, but it did.
Lucy was the least enthusiastic, but managed to eat her portion. Maia mumbled "mmmm, this is good" through a mouthful of spaghetti and Marc and I each had seconds. I've never been to Cincinnati, but if I ever get there, I'll definitely try the original.
We drew our next four: Nevada, Vermont, North Carolina and California