Cincinnati Chili

I saw a Zagat video about Cincinnati Chili. It looked completely indulgent to the point of grossness, and I was intrigued. You know when vegans comment on Instagram junk food (*see the atrocity below) and say SMH, Meat Eaters? My secret thought is usually, yaaas how delightfully inventive to stuff  a cheeseburger into a pizza crust. Anyway, that's how I felt with this chili and so I decided that I must recreate it.

From my research on the interwebs and the youtubes, a Cincinnati chili is uniquely spiced--not spicy per se--but the inclusion of cloves, allspice and chocolate makes the dish. The chili is more like a resist the urge to add veggies and beans. It is a spiced meat sauce. A meat sauce that will top some spaghetti along with shredded cheese.

I apparently am the only fool that goes to make chili without any chili powder in the pantry. Luckily I had some dried chili peppers from Fiesta (I think they were Ancho, but I was storing them in an unlabeled jar). So...I grabbed my high-speed blender and went to town. The key to blending something spicy is to let it sit for a while before opening the lid. This may be obvious, but the particles suspended in the air need to settle or else you'll get a face full of spice.

The verdict on this Cincinnati chili is that is a delicious foodstuff. Period. It reminds me of chili mac, with the inclusion of the pasta. The deep brown colored meat sauce itself was spiced to perfection and the rich flavor profile was a real treat to my unsuspecting tastebuds. The cheese and raw onion topping was an essential part of the dish, so don't skimp!

Cincinnati Chili
1 12 oz package of vegan beef crumbles (I used Lightlife brand)
1 can tomato paste
4 C water or low sodium veggie broth
3 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 bay leaf
salt, to taste
fresh ground black pepper
1 package spaghetti (cooked according to instructions to al dente)
vegan shredded cheddar cheese (I used Daiya)
diced onion

dry mix:
2 1/2 to 3 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
3-4 Tbsp good chili powder
1 tsp cinnamon
3/4 tsp garlic powder
3/4 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp white pepper
1/2 tsp brown sugar
1/4 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp allspice

1. In a medium stockpot add a few tsps of oil and heat to medium. Add vegan beef and cook 3-4 minutes (it can begin to brown, but make sure it doesn't get crunchy).
2. Add dry spice mix and stir to coat all the pieces. Cook another 1 minute, stirring constantly to make sure it doesn't burn.
3. Slowly add water/broth. Add tomato paste, vinegar, black pepper and bay leaf. Bring to a boil and then immediately turn heat to low and simmer for about an hour or more. Stirring occasionally. 
4. Taste and season with more salt and pepper if necessary. 
5. Assembly: For each portion add some spaghetti to the bottom of the bowl. Top with chili, making sure to cover evenly with the sauce. Top with cheddar shreds (these aren't suppose to be melted) and diced onion.