Slow Cooker Cincinnati Chili
Credit: Breville USA on flickr / Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic

It's getting chilly outside - which made me think of chili. Since I had my slow cooker out all weekend making turkey stew, I thought I'd look up a beefy crock-pot recipe too.

My March 2o13 edition of Canadian Living magazine had a fabulous Cincinnati chili recipe[1] that was easy for me to make gluten-free.

And even though Canadian Living describes this dish as a "beanless regional specialty" I found out that people can order Cincinnati "Skyline" Chili five different ways.[2] And one of those ways includes beans.

Good, because I need my family to eat more beans these days.

Slow Cooker Cincinnati Chili (1 of 5)
Credit: Breville USA on flickr / Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic

What's Not to Love

The immediate appeal of Cincinnati "Skyline" Chili (besides the cool name) is that cinnamon and cocoa are involved. When you slow cook certain spices with lean ground beef, the result is the most decadent, incredible taste experience you can imagine.

But be careful: men from far away seem to detect that aroma in the air. So if you are single, you might want to consider making this dish to kick off a romantic evening. After all, the cinnamon and chocolate are considered aphrodisiacs.[3]

Joe and Pam visit Skyline Chili

Who doesn't enjoy a 3-way?

My Gluten-Free Tweaks and Tips

Lady and the TrampCredit: AmazonG-F Pasta

I've tried a few brands of gluten-free pasta and some tend to break up or get mushy. I prefer mine al dente.

So, the brand (and type) I recommend is Schar's Naturally Gluten-Free Fusilli. It's produced in Italy and popular in Europe.

Now, if you've ever been on a date and ordered stringy pasta, you know how tricky it can be to manage (unless you are Lady and the Tramp).

Fusilli (aka corkscrew pasta) is perfect for this dish because the spirals "hold" onto chili and you can use a spoon to eat it. It's easier for the kids too.

Chocolate

Pure, dark, non-alkalized cocoa (also spelled cacao) powders are gluten-free, however hot chocolate mixes are not. The original recipe called for 1 tbsp. of cocoa powder, but I used 1.5 tbsp. of it instead. If you happen to have baker's chocolate on hand, you can use 1/2 a square (each 1 oz square = 3 tbsp. of non-alkalized (aka Dutch-process) cocoa PLUS 1 tbsp. butter). Using cocoa powder adds less fat to the recipe.

G-F Beef Broth

I notice there are a few brands of gluten-free broths and bouillon cubes on the market today. I have always used Vogue Cuisine Beef (Vegetarian Beef) Soup & Seasoning Base though. It's low in sodium, gluten-free, and it's been around since 1938. 

G-F Flour

This recipe only requires about 1 tbsp. of gluten-free flour, so I don't bother adding xanthan gum to it.

Shredded Cheddar Cheese

Remember this if you need to keep gluten out of a recipe: a hidden source of gluten is found in prepackaged shredded cheeses. Flour is added to the package to keep the pieces of cheese from sticking together. So, buy block cheese and grate it yourself. 

According to CooksInfo:[4] 1/4 lb. of Cheddar cheese = 4 oz = 115 g = 1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese.

G-F Cincinnati Chili (Slow Cooker Method)

Serves: 4 - 6 | Prep: 30 mins | Total: 8.5 hrs

Ingredients:

A small three-way!!Credit: Joe Hall (joebeone on flickr) / Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic2 lbs. (907 g) lean ground beef
1 can (28 oz / 796 mL) whole tomatoes
1 cup gluten-free beef stock or broth (low salt)
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 large sweet onion* (diced)  
2 - 3 garlic cloves (minced)
1.5 tbsp. pure Dutch-process cocoa powder
2 tsp. dried oregano
1 - 1.5 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. thyme (I added, not in original recipe)
pinch - 1/4 tsp. salt (I add it to taste last)
1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper
1 tbsp. gluten-free all purpose flour
1 can (15 oz) drained and rinsed organic kidney beans (buy precooked, ready to eat)
12 oz (340 g) gluten-free pasta
1 cup (4 oz block) Cheddar cheese (grated)
 
Optional garnish: save out some of your diced onion* as a topping, sprigs of cilantro or parsley
 
Directions:
 
In a large skillet over med-high heat, brown beef for about 5 minutes (breaking it up as it cooks) so it is no longer pink. Don't overcook it though. Turn off heat, drain off the fat from the pan and add to your slow cooker.
 
Chop and mince your onion and garlic and add it to the slow cooker. If you are saving some onion as a garnish, cover and store it in the fridge. Then add the stock, tomatoes, tomato paste, cocoa, and spices (not the flour, though).
 
Give everything a good stir, cover, and cook on "low" for 7 - 8 hours. 
 
In a small bowl, whisk 1 tbsp. flour with 1 tbsp. water until smooth and add to slow cooker. Add in drained and rinsed (precooked, canned) kidney beans. Thoroughly combine flour mixture and kidney beans with chili, cover, and cook on "high" for 15 minutes (or until thickened to desired consistency). 
 
In the meantime, shred your cheese and get your pasta cooking (according to directions on the package). 
 
Once pasta is done, serve it up with chili on top, cheddar, and onion, if desired.

Using Long Pasta Instead?

Some helpful tips if it's your first time

SpaghettiCredit: Kurtis Garbutt on flickr / Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 GenericFor those of you cooking a romantic meal for the first time (and you do want the Lady and the Tramp scene to happen), I thought I'd offer up some helpful advice.

It's next to impossible to figure out how much pasta you need if you already have an opened package of spaghetti. And who has a kitchen scale that is accurate? No one I know.

So, here's a basic guide[5] I also found in Canadian Living magazine:

Use a tape measure (and I know people own these) and wrap it around a handful of pasta:

  • 2.5 inch (6 cm) circumference = 1 serving (90 g / 3 oz)
  • 4.5 inch (11 cm) circumference = 2 to 3 servings (250 g / 8 oz)
  • 5.25 inch (12.5 cm) circumference = 4 servings (375 g / 12 oz)

If you have it, you can also source out a round cookie cutter to use in the future. Hope this helps (wink).