Thursday, January 29, 2015

Fire and Ice Cincinnati-Style Chili

One of the benefits of subscribing to food magazines is that you get lots and lots of recipes; you quickly discover, however, that this is also the curse of culinary publications (cookbooks, too), as you end up with a volume of recipes that infinitely exceeds the average human capacity to make them all (I suspect even Julia Child probably just wanted to go to the beach every now and again). Rather than try to absorb the whole lot, I've taken to simply dog-earing the corner of pages where I find a recipe that I'd like to try - even so, I've found that unless I attempt said dish within the next month or two, the likelihood of it ever getting prepared drops significantly. Anyway, the December 2014 issue of Food and Wine included a brief article featuring Ice Cream Queen Jeni Britton Bauer (of the Columbus, OH-based and growing Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream empire) and a few savory creations that incorporate ice cream (as she put it, just about every dish could use a little "sweetness and cream"), including a Cincinnati-style chili recipe with a cup of dark chocolate ice cream added at the end of cooking. Now, my mother-in-law's chili is the house standby here at the Canteen, but Jeni's looked simple and enticing enough that I wanted to give it a go (besides, I typically like to have an alternative version of most classic recipes just to keep things interesting). The hardest part of the whole endeavor was actually finding the dark chocolate ice cream - Winn-Dixie didn't sell it, Whole Foods only carried a dark chocolate "non-dairy" frozen product sourced from coconuts (which, while tasty, still tasted suspiciously like coconuts, not a common chili ingredient unless you're Hawaiian), and Publix only featured a gelato, which is what I chose to make do with. I substituted a pound of ground turkey for one of the pounds of ground beef in the ingredients; otherwise, I stayed faithful to the instructions and served it like they do in Cincinnati, that is, atop spaghetti (the consistency is thinner than most chili I've encountered) and mounded with chopped onions, shredded yellow cheese, and oyster crackers, plus a swirl of sour cream and a touch of hot sauce for good measure. The result? Mrs. H. admitted she liked it better than her mother's (her words, not mine) and I had to concur. The dark chocolate gelato added just a hint of complexity and spice to the mix, a very subtle addition (not the flavor bomb I feared at one point). Since this recipe serves 8 and we are essentially 2 and a half (the progeny, as always, mostly demurred from the proceedings), I had many leftovers for lunch during the week and was very pleased with my vat of chili for the most part (even after the spaghetti ran out and I had to eat it in the more-traditional bowl). If you live in Ohio and are a fan of Jeni's (and presumably you have better access to her product than us), I'd encourage you to try this out when prepping for the Big Game on Sunday...

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