Kids love chili. Who doesn’t? My own kids like my mom’s plain, bland chili. They also love Cincinnati Chili.
It’s made with finely ground beef and lots of liquid, so it’s thin-textured and soupy—all the better for serving over spaghetti, the dish's hallmark. It also has cinnamon and cocoa in it, which gives it a distinctive taste. Served as a "3-way," it is chili, spaghetti, and finely shredded cheddar cheese; add onions for a "4-way."
When we’re not in Cincinnati, I make a white chili, but lately my kids have been requesting “regular” chili, which means the red kind. The recipe I’ve been making for years is from the Silver Palate Cookbook, although mine has taken on a life of its own at this point. I typically cut the recipe in half, skip the olive oil, dill, lemon juice and olives, and use whatever canned tomatoes I have on hand—usually a combination of stewed, plum and crushed. I also use a leaner ground beef than the chuck or a combination of lean ground beef and chuck.
Speaking of what you can put in your chili—the sky's the limit. Some folks put chocolate in their chili … and some cherries. Actually you can make a pot of chili with all sorts of unlikely ingredients: pumpkin, cinnamon, barley, zucchini, turkey, even cherries. Here's a sampler of some of our favorite incarnations.
—Jill Melton, Relish Editor