One of the few bummers about living out here in Seattle is that there are no Skyline Chili places. What the hell is a Skyline Chili you ask? Well, I’ll tell you, it’s a chain restaurant serving Cincinnati style chili. What the hell is Cincinnati style chili you wonder? It’s basically a greek style chili. In fact, the Skyline Chili restaurant chain was started by a greek immigrant, one Nicholas Lambrinides. Story goes that he opened a restaurant overlooking the Cincinnati skyline serving greek food. The chili was the hands down favorite and as they say, history was made.
What makes it so good? I really can’t put my finger on it. I’ve had other greek style chili and it’s pretty close to be honest. I think more than anything it’s a taste that sparks fond memories. Hitting a Skyline, getting a 3 way, 2 coneys and a large iced tea to wash away the stink of another Browns loss. Skyline coneys even became a sort of currency for us as well. “I’ll bet you 5 Skyline coneys the Bungles don’t even score Sunday” We’d meet later in the week and divvy up the wins. “Okay, I won 3 from Mike, and 6 from John, but I lost 8 last week to…” Lunches might go on for hours as the complicated math was figured out.
Beth also has a love for this chili, and she managed to find a pretty good recipe online. Not wanting to leave well enough alone, we experimented a bit and after a little tweaking, I think we have it dialed in. So without any more rambling, I give you… ambrosia.
2 lbs ground beef, 90/10 or 85/15
2 small cans of tomato sauce, 8 oz each.
1 large white onion
5 garlic cloves
1 tbsp Worcestershire
2.5 tbsp unsweetened cocoa, or about a half an ounce of grated bakers unsweetened chocolate
¼ cup ancho chili powder
1 tsp cayenne
¼ tsp allspice
1 tsp ground cumin
2 tbsp cider vinegar
1 bay leaf
¼ tsp ground cloves
1 tsp cinnamon
Put the ground beef into a 4-6 qt pot and add about 1.5 quarts of water and bring to a slow boil. You can always add more during the cooking if it starts to get too thick. Cook the beef in the water until it has started to break down into small tiny bits. Using a spoon, try to get as much fat as possible out of the water as it cooks, but do not drain and re-add water. The water has flavor man! After about 45-60 minutes, chop the onion and garlic cloves, and then mince the heck out of them in a food processor. Dump them into the pot along with the rest of the ingredients. Reduce to a low heat and let this simmer for at least 3 more hours. Key number one to this chili is the slow cooking. Salt to taste when done, and then let it cool. Some folks even put it in the fridge over night. This is key number 2, you want to remove as much of the fat as possible, and cooling the chili helps to separate the fat. I personally think it’s best to try and get most of it out before you add the spices though. Regardless, the chili does taste better the next day, so fridge away!
When you are ready to serve, warm the chili back up slowly, and add liquid if need be. You want a nice thick consistency. To serve it, you have several options. The base is called a 3 way. There are no options here. It has to have these 3 things. A base of spaghetti, cover with chili, then mound a huge amount of finely grated cheddar or american cheese. It has to have the cheese folks, I’m not kidding. The next step up is a 4 way, add diced onion on top of the chili, then follow with the cheese. The 5 way is a 4 way with kidney beans before the onions. You can also use it to make a killer coney. One final tip. Keep the Tabasco sauce and oyster crackers handy, and have a nice tall glass of iced tea at the ready.
Okay, I’ve gotta go wipe off the drool now.
Gregor —— GO BROWNS!