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I’m at W-C-h-i-l-i in Cincinnati….. January 21, 2009

Filed under: Cooking — LotusMama @ 9:11 am
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My sum total of knowledge about Ohio is that 1) there is a river with that name, 2) it is an important state to win in presidential politics and 3) that the late 70s-early 80s TV show “WKRP” was set in Cincinnati.

I used to really like the show. Perhaps because I had a distant relative that reminded me of Herb Tarlek and Les Nessman, rolled into one. Maybe it was because Howard Hesseman was hilarious as Johnny Fever. Or maybe it was because I was still a kid; I watched a re-run recently and the funniest thing I saw was the retro clothing and Loni Anderson’s hairdo. It was during this viewing that I concocted the theory that Gary Sandy (Andy) hasn’t aged and is now working as Nathan Fillion. Check out the resemblance:

180px-wkrp_bailey_and_andymalreynoldsfirefly(Thank you wikpedia for the images.)

You see the resemblance, don’t you? Really? No? Oh well.

But I digress (and quickly change the subject). I said that I knew three things about Ohio but I should have listed a fourth. Watching an episode of Cook’s Country on Sunday, I discovered Cincinnati Chili. It’s about as different from chili as you can get really; more of a sauce than a chili. It is served on top of spaghetti. The spices involved are chili powder, minced garlic, oregano, allspice and cinnamon. Yeah, cinnamon. There are no beans in the chili – those are served on top like a topping.  No crushed tomatoes either – tomato sauce is used.

I know, it sounds weird. For people used to western style chili this is something really out there. Curious to see what makes this dish famous, I made some up using Cook’s Country’s top recipe. I was skeptical at putting the raw hamburger in the simmering sauce (the meat cooks there, no browning ahead of time, as I’m used to) and I really was doubtful about the cinnamon. I piled the spaghetti on a plate, doused it with the chili and used kidney beans, cheese and some sour cream as toppings. The first bite was…interesting. All I could taste was the cinnamon. But once I got over that, the flavor and the texture with the spaghetti kind of grew on me. NR pronounced it “great” which he never does with chili. Hubby agreed that the next batch needed less cinnamon. The recipe called for 1 1/2 teaspoons and I think I’ll be dropping it down to half a teaspoon total.

But yes, we’ll be making it again. I’ll try some raw red onion on it next time for a little punch. It was curiously good and though not really chili in my book, good enough that we’ll make up another batch and tweak it some more. Maybe we’ll even watch WKRP episodes and I’ll look for more evidence for my Gary Sandy/Nathan Fillion theory. (Ah gentleman, I jest, I jest….or do I?)

I would share the exact recipe with you but I had to register with Cook’s Country to get it and I doubt they would like me to share it. So you can either register yourself at or do a google for Cincinnati Chili. Beware of recipes that call for chocolate or cumin; neither was in the recipe.