It’s a cool and rainy Saturday night in Billings, and a perfect night for five way chili (chili on spaghetti with five toppings to choose from). My wife grew up in Milwaukee, and introduced me to this fine way of enjoying chili. I, however, wasn’t a big fan of the canned chili available on the store shelves, so with a little testing here and there (and some help from my friends at The Food Network) I’ve cobbled together a decent rendition of chili in a way enjoyed in the Great Lakes region.
1 lb ground beef (I use 85/15)
1 red onion, diced
1 large (28 oz) can diced tomatoes
1+ Tbsp ground cumin
1+ Tbsp chili powder
1+ Tbsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp cayenne
Cheese (Medium sharp cheddar here)
1 can (15 oz) kidney beans, drained
1 box thin spaghetti
First, get that chili going. I use my dutch oven – but any good sized kettle will do. Sautee half of the diced onions in the fat of your choice, then add in the ground beef and get it browning. As it’s browning up, add a good pinch of salt, a tablespoon each of chili powder, garlic powder, and cumin and the 1/2 tsp of cayenne. Once the meat’s looking brown, add in the entire can (undrained) of diced tomatoes, then fill the can with water and add that too. If you like the beans in your chili, add them now (I prefer my chili sans bean, but the wife likes them so she adds them herself). Let it cook down uncovered for about 30 minutes at a low boil. Add more cumin, garlic, chili powder, and salt to taste. I seem to add another tablespoon of each.
Once the chili is simmering down, boil your pasta water, cook your noodles, and drain them. I like to add a little olive oil on my freshly drained pasta, but that’s just me. Set out bowls of shredded cheese, the remainder of the diced onions, the beans if you didn’t add them earlier, sour cream, oyster crackers and the pasta. Serve the chili in a bowl on a bed of pasta, and let your family or guests add the toppings as they see fit.
In the spirit of the spoon, please monkey around with the chili recipe as you desire. Add more heat, add more vegetables, try different meats – have fun!