Wednesday, January 27, 2010

A 3-way with vegetarian Cincinnati chili and The National

What goes better with a 3-way Cincinnati-style chili than listening to the great music of The National, originally from Cincy. I used to love Skyline chili in my meat-eating days, and would get it frozen from my local grocery store and serve it over spaghetti and top with cheese. It was quick and satisfying. Being a mostly non-meat eater these days, I still craved the flavor and texture without the animal. I searched online, experimented and combined different recipes I found in trying to duplicate the Skyline chili recipe with a vegetarian version.

I was in Cincinnati for Thanksgiving with my sister celebrating the holiday with her future-in-laws and I fell off the vegetarian wagon in a big way, and ended up partaking in a meat extravaganza which started with a loaded plate of juicy turkey to begging my sister and her fiance to take me to Skyline for a greasy plate of chili cheese fries, and it was fabulous. Being at a Skyline was very similar to being at Waffle House...another place for which I have a strong weakness. Very few chains, especially fast-food/diner type chains grab my attention, but this is one of them. Yes folks, that is my dirty little secret for 2009. I am currently back on the meatless wagon.

I think once I discovered that Skyline serves lots of foods that are gluten-free, I couldn't hold back, and just had to indulge. You can see their gluten-free menu here.

For my homemade and much healthier gluten-free version, I feel the texture and taste came out very similar, and even if it does not taste exactly like the real thing, it sure tastes good, and makes it difficult not to take seconds. I honestly could not tell the difference from the meat-based version with this smooth texture.

3 cans kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 onion, chopped
4 cups veggie stock or broth (
I use Celifibr bouillon cubes)
16-oz can tomato sauce
2-3 T chili powder
2 T apple cider vinegar
2 t worcestershire sauce
1/2 oz. unsweetened chocolate
1 T brown sugar
2 t garlic
1 1/2 t cinnamon
1 t cumin
1 t oregano
1/2 t allspice
1/4 t cloves
1 bay leaf
shredded cheddar cheese and finely chopped onion for topping

This sounds bizarre but to get the proper texture, put the chopped onion and 2 cans of beans in the blender, and pureed until smooth, but not
liquefied. I realize a bean and onion smoothie does not sound appealing, but trust me, this works, keep reading...

Empty this mixture into a pot, and then blend the 3rd can of beans more coarsely in the blender. You may need to add some of the broth to the blender for each batch to make it easier to mix.

Add the broth to the beans and onion mixture in a large pot, bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes.

Add the remaining ingredients and simmer, uncovered for 2-3 hours stirring occasionally. By this time it will have thickened and taste delicious!!

Cook spaghetti just before serving and spoon the chili onto the pasta, serve topped with cheese and/or onions.

I prefer mine served 3-way on spaghetti and shredded cheddar cheese.
I think I will have my leftovers tomorrow for lunch on a baked potato.

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