My boyfriend and I have a semi-annual tradition — a Cincinnati chili Super Bowl Sunday party. The way it came be was several years ago when we lived in Southeast Portland I cooked up a huge pot of my brother’s killer Cincinnati chili recipe on you guessed it — Super Bowl Sunday.
I talked to my brother on the phone that day — he’s in Cincinnati along with the rest of my family — and told him about the chili party. He said something to the tune of that’s perfect. As in, Cincinnati chili plus Super Bowl equals perfection. It wasn’t though in his terms because we didn’t in fact watch the Super Bowl. We never do. Not only do we not have television reception, we just aren’t into football and neither are a lot of our friends.
Anyway, our no Superbowl on Superbowl Sunday chili party became tradition from that day forward and it’s always a hit. This year people were so into it we actually ran out of chili — first time ever. Luckily it was in the final hours of the party and everyone had had their fill by then. If you don’t know much about Cincinnati chili here are some spots that you can learn a thing or two from. (Please disregard the fork twirling in the Saveur photo — that just isn’t how it’s done.)
My friend Rale made us a very special card for the Cincy chili party this year…
I can’t get enough of Cincinnati chili. It’s always the first food I eat when I land in Cincinnati and I’ve been known to have it for breakfast on more than one occasion while visiting. It’s that good. It’s home. (Anthony Bourdain, I’m sad that you tried Cincinnati chili for the first time with someone who sneers at it for your Cleveland No Reservations episode. Next time you’re in Portland I’ll make you some.)
My brother’s recipe is fantastic. And as much as I miss the parlor aspect when I make it at home I actually think it’s better than most of the Cincy parlor renditions. You even get the steamy windows when you cook it at home. Stumble upon a Cincinnati chili parlor in the wee hours — when people are on the late night crawl and fueling up — and from the outside you’ll think you’ve arrived at an open-all-hours greenhouse.
Although I’ve never found a good source for the mini dogs and buns that a proper Cincinnati chili coney requires I’ve made do with Gartner’s delicious German weiners. These pork and beef, sheep casing dogs are better than any hot dog I’ve ever known and I like that they are on the skinny side, all the better to fill those coneys with more chocolate and cinnamony Cincy chili.
This year, Gartner’s Country Meat Market was a mad house the day before the Super Bowl. It’s always busy before holidays — especially summer holidays — but this time around it felt like a popular NYC borough bar, five people deep. And it’s money in the bank for Gartner’s that after ten minutes waiting to place your order any carnivorous sane person will find at least one or two (for us three or four…) more items in the case to add to their order.
We added a quarter pound of really good lunch meat — beef thuringer. It’s an emulsified bologna type meat that we slapped between some tasty cheese bread with mustard and called it lunch. We also bought a couple cheddar onion knackwursts for breakfast the next morning. Gluttons.
And even though we managed to eat our way through a large stockpot of Cincinnati chili this year we were left with a dozen Gartner’s weiners. One thing we did with those was cook up a mean migas scramble with them, eggs, cheddar, red chile flakes, and of course the requisite sliced and fried corn tortillas. Mmmm
Gartner’s Country Meat Market
7450 NE Killingsworth St., Portland