Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Cincinnati Chili Dogs

 I haven't had much time to post lately, but I just had to share the Cincinnati Chili Dogs I made on Sunday. Cincinnati Chili was a favorite of ours when we lived in Indiana (and had access to a Skyline Chili restaurant), but there isn't anything like it in Minnesota. Luckily, has a very good recipe--supposedly the original Skyline Chili recipe. You can find the recipe here: Authentic Cincinnati Chili

The great thing about this chili is all the spices---cinnamon, allspice, bay leaves, cayenne pepper, cloves, chili powder....and a "secret" ingredient....

It's true...chocolate makes everything better!

We decided on chili dogs after we found these Angus dogs at the store. No nitrates means no swollen sausage fingers for Pete....

Cincinnati Chili is usually served over spaghetti, with a few variants on the toppings. Here is a breakdown of how Cincinnati Chili is most often served:
  • two-way: spaghetti and chili
  • three-way: spaghetti, chili, and shredded cheese
  • four-way: spaghetti, chili, shredded cheese, and either diced onions or beans
  • five-way: spaghetti, chili, shredded cheese, diced onions, and beans
  • cheese coney: hot dog topped with chili, shredded cheese, diced onions, and mustard
  • chili cheese fries: French fries topped with chili and shredded cheese
Oyster crackers are a must for authentic Cincinnati Chili, but, alas, I forgot to buy some. Another reason we decided on the dogs.

My mother-in-law, who lived most of her life in Ohio, never heard of Cincinnati Chili. It was an instant hit with her.

How do you like your chili?

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Wendy's New Natural Cut Fries with Sea Salt

To say that I love French fries may be an understatement. I loooove French fries! So when Foodbuzz and Wendy's offered me a gift card to try out Wendy's new fries, I jumped at the chance. Oh, before I forget--my official disclosure: "As part of the Foodbuzz Tastemaker Program, I received a Wendy's gift card to try out Wendy's new Natural Cut French Fries with Sea Salt " .

I first heard about Wendy's new version of French fries a couple of weeks ago, and since my husband and I both share a love of the fried potato, we set out to find them. The first few tries were futile, but we did manage to get our fill of Wendy's chili (that's one recipe I hope they don't monkey with). We finally did find them, but, keeping in mind that this was before I received my free-trial gift card, I didn't pay much attention to the detail. They did seem a little salty.

Along with my gift card, came a time and place that I should use it. My window of fry tasting opportunity was pretty small--this Friday or next, between 2-6 PM. Since I'm out of town next week, this Friday won the draw. Unfortunately, when I left work at 4:30, the weather decided to take a turn for the worse---it was snowing. The commute to my designated Wendy's, normally a 20 minute drive, took 1 1/4 hours. Yikes. The things I do for French fries.

Before I left on my great French fry adventure, I googled the new fries to see what kind of buzz was out there. The opinions were divided. There is a whole group of people out there who loved the old fries. Nothing but the old version would make these people happy....they are now boycotting. The other group didn't care for the old fries...too soggy, they said. These people welcomed the change with open mouths. And everyone compared them to the mother of all fast food fries, the McDonald French fry....amazingly popular even after Mickey D's changed things up drastically twenty years ago, doing away with frying them in beef tallow. It must have to do with the flavor additives.

So what did I think? I like them. I know the sea salt thing is a gimmick....sodium is, after all, sodium. The "sprinkling" of sea salt actually makes the fries seem less salty, which makes me question the salty taste I got on my first visit. I'm thinking an employee was a little heavy-handed with the salt at that location. The fries themselves were crispier than the old version, and the skins left on gave them a more natural potato taste. Even after I took all of my pictures and the fries were no longer hot, they remained crispy. That is a good thing.

Check out the potato skins on these fries. To me, it made them a little tastier...more potatoey, if you will.

Of course, I've always loved the burgers at Wendy's...the meat seems fresher. They are going for the same impression with the fries.

I certainly wasn't having any trouble finishing my fries.

Check out all the French fry advertising. This is a big deal for Wendy's.

Not a crumb left.....

And back out into the cold...

In conclusion, I think the change is good. If the different locations can make the fries a little more consistently, I think they will be successful. Good luck, Wendy's.