I’m no Cincinnati native, but there are 3 reasons I choose to make this: 1) How have I NOT eaten this yet!??, 2) it’s finally sweater and chili weather, and 3) I’m a finalist in the Cincinnati Region SAVUER 2019 Food Blog Awards! It still hasn’t sunk in that this humble little blog I started almost 4 years ago has been chosen out of 15,000 other blogs. WHAT A FLIPPIN’ HONOR, MAN! I’ll be heading to Cincinnati, Ohio in November to attend the Food Blog Awards and meet some amazingly talented bloggers. And of course, I’ll scope out the Funky Food scene. I intend to bring home souvenirs.
In the meantime, I’m celebrating Halloween! This recipe uses black bean spaghetti to portray a wiggly (oddly cute) monster. Traditional Cincinnati Chili doesn’t include carrots and bell pepper, but that’s what makes the Cincinnati Chili Monsters so scary—he makes you eat vegetables! And the fact that he’s gluten-free (minus the oyster crackers) makes him even more terrifying!
You can get pretty creative with the monster’s face by using the cheese, onions, and crackers in whatever way you like. My dad (who’s really a child at heart) used the cheese to make a beard, and the pieces of carrots to make teeth (photo below)!
Have fun…I mean…get SPOOOOKY with this one!
~*~ THE CINCINNATI CHILI MONSTER ~*~
SERVES: 4 to 6⎪ DIFFICULTY: INTERMEDIATE | FUNK: CASUAL
Mise en Place
1 tablespoon bacon fat or vegetable oil
1 red onion
1 carrot, peeled and diced
1 green bell pepper, seeded and diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 tablespoons dried or fresh oregano
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice or clove
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne
2 cups water or chicken stock
1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce
1 square (about 1 tablespoon) 80 or 90% dark chocolate
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 bay leaf
1 pound ground beef
8 ounces black bean spaghetti
4 ounces cheddar cheese, finely grated
oyster crackers, for serving
Playlist — Gorillaz
1. CUT THE ONION
Cut the red onion in half cross-wise. Slice a few rings, some big and small. These will be used for the monsters eyes. Small dice the rest of the onion, reserving 1/2 cup for garnish.
2. COOK THE VEGETABLES
Heat the bacon fat or oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the onions, carrot, and bell pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until soft. Add the chili powder, oregano, salt, cumin, allspice, and cayenne, and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in water or stock, tomato sauce, dark chocolate, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, and bay leaf.
3. COOK THE CHILI
Add the ground beef and break it up with a wooden spoon into small bits. Bring to a boil, and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer until the carrots are tender and the chili is slightly thickened, about 10 – 15 minutes. For looser, sauce-like chili, cook for less time.
4. COOK THE SPAGHETTI
Meanwhile, bring 8 cups of salted water to a boil. Add the black bean spaghetti and lower the heat to a simmer. Cook for 4 – 5 minutes until tender, then drain.
Serve chili over black bean spaghetti and top with reserved diced red onion and grated cheddar cheese. Make eyes and a mouth with sliced onions rings. Garnish with oyster crackers.
~*~ VEGETARIAN VARIATION ~*~
Replace ground beef with 3/4 pound peeled and diced winter squash. In Step 3, simmer the squash, partially covered, until fork-tender.
How would you use Black Bean Spaghetti? Let me know what you’ve cooked and leave a comment below.