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Cincinnati Chili
Serves 4 (or 8 over Spaghetti)

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 medium onions, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic (optional), finely minced
2 pounds lean ground beef
4 cups beef broth
15-ounce can tomato sauce
1 teaspoon ground allspice
3 tablespoons chili powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne, or more if you wish it hotter
1 teaspoon cumin seeds, freshly roasted in a small skillet and ground
1 teaspoon flour
2 tablespoons water
1 bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
2 tablespoons white or cider vinegar
1/2 ounce unsweetened chocolate
salt, if desired

In a covered medium (4 quart) saucepan, sweat onions and garlic in
oil over medium flame until soft and translucent, about 8 minutes.
With a slotted spoon lift out the onions and garlic and set aside.

Drop meat in the saucepan and cook over medium-high heat until all
the redness is gone and the meat is a light brown, about 6 minutes.
Break up the clumps of meat with a wooden spoon to assure that it
is thoroughlly cooked. Add the cooked onion and garlic to the meat
and stir well to mix. Add the beef broth, tomato sauce and all-spice.
Cook over low heat, barely simmering, for about 1/2 hour.

Make a thin paste with the chili powder, cayenne, freshly ground
cumin, 1 teaspoon flour and about 2 tablespoons water. The chili
puree or paste in this form makes it easier to control the amount
of hot stuff to be added.

Begin with 2 tablespoons of the chili paste mixed into the saucepan,
and stir to blend it well. Taste. Add more by the single tablespoon
until the desired seasoning is reached.

Add bay leaf, ground cloves, vinegar, chocolate and salt, to taste.

Cover and cook over low heat for at least 1 hour. Some Cincinnati
cooks let the pot simmer for up to 3 hours. But don't let it turn
into a solid before adding more beef stock or water.

Taste and test one more time and correct seasoning to suit the
tongue and the occasion.

Serve chili in heated bowls and pass saltines. Or, as in Cincinnati,
layer spaghetti, chili, onions, cheese and oyster crackers.


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