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Archive for Wednesday, April 9, 2003

Greek chili offers layers of flavor

April 9, 2003

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Cincinnati is home to an unusual chili with a Greek heritage.

The chili is a multi-tiered specialty, traditionally served on a bed of spaghetti and topped with shredded Cheddar cheese, in a style known as "three-way." But why stop there? With toppings of kidney beans or chopped onions (or both), the dish can become "four-way" or "five-way."

It's said that this Cincinnati chili tradition dates back more than 50 years, to when a family brought their special recipe from Greece.

The following version keeps the five-way element and expands the Greek flavor. Chickpeas are combined with red kidney beans in the chili mixture, and optional garnishes include green onions, feta cheese and Greek olives.

Greek Chili

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12 ounces lean ground beef
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons dried oregano leaves
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon dried mint leaves
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa
28-ounce can diced tomatoes, undrained
15-ounce can chickpeas, or 1 1/2 cups cooked dry-packaged chickpeas, rinsed, drained (see note)
15-ounce can dark-red kidney beans, or 1 1/2 cups cooked dry-packaged dark-red kidney beans, rinsed, drained (see note)
2 teaspoons honey
5 to 6 cups cooked macaroni, warm
Optional garnish: Sliced green onions and tops, crumbled feta cheese, sliced Greek olives, as desired

Saute ground beef, onion and garlic in large saucepan until ground beef is browned, about 5 minutes; add spices, herbs and cocoa and cook 1 to 2 minutes longer.

Stir in tomatoes, beans and honey; heat to boiling. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, 15 minutes; uncover and simmer until thickened, about 15 minutes.

Spoon chili over macaroni in bowls; garnish with green onions, feta cheese and olives, as desired.

Note: Any canned or dry-packaged bean variety may be substituted for those listed here.

Makes 8 servings.

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