You might see a mound of yellow cheddar cheese and yes there is a lot of cheese. This is Cincinnati styled Chili. Cincinnati chili is far different from any chili I had ever had. First of all, the chili has a unique set of spices...lots of aromatics (cinnamon, cloves, etc). Second, it is served in “ways”. Kind of like choose what you like...Kind of like "Evanated" The most basic is to add spaghetti. You can keep adding until you get to 6-way which includes pinto beans, sweet onions, aged cheddar, spaghetti and fresh garlic. This is itself is interesting, but why?
I’ve told you I love everything about food...Well, the answer speaks to the history of food. A few weeks ago I posted about what I call food migration...how people bring with them their food when they migrate to another country. These flavors become mixed with the flavors that already exist in the area and new food is born...kind of like fusion cuisine that lots of restaurants like to say they have...This was fusion old-school style.
So coming to Dixie Chili showed me what I'd thought about food migration first hand. Meet Spiros Sarakatsannis. His father migrated from Greece to America at the age of 15. He brought with him a love of Greek spices. That and a love of coney dogs caused him to work at Empress Chili then, open Dixie Chili in 1929. He shared this Greek inspired chili with the world and influenced others to make "Cincinnati-styled" Chili.
To make this chili, they take a huge mixer, 150 gallons to be exact. This mixer is used three times a week to make chili for his three restaurants. This mixer has a heater/steamer which allows much of the processing to be done in it. Per Papa Nick's recipe, they add corn oil, onions and garlic. They then sauté this then add the most select lean beef, which is ground onsite. Next, they add in tomato products, such as tomato paste. Next they add amazing 17 Greek spices like cinnamon and nutmeg. Once it is cooked, they flash cool it. Finally, they use a hydraulic pump to suck out the chili and vacuum seal it. They repeat this two more times for their three locations. This 450 gallon amount of chili is used for the entire week. They never freeze, use preservatives or reconstitute their chili. This provides the most unique chili I have ever tasted. A Cincinnati/Newport, Kentucky classic.
Spiros prides himself on having customers that are 90 or 100 years old and remember his father. They state the chili tastes the same then as now.
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