Cincinnati Chili

Mediocre chili. It’s a plague running through midwestern households like Mary Kay at a church potluck. And we’ve all succumbed to the ‘please don’t let this happen’ prayer while fast-paced stadium shuffling to the bathroom after being force-fed your uncle’s tailgating tradition. We need an intervention, and the answer hails from Cincinnati.

Yield:

4 (But I’ve witnessed 1 put this down alone)

Ready In:

1hrs 30min

Good For:

Lunch, Dinner, or Emotional Eating 

About this Recipe
Cincinnati Chili is the best thing to come out of Cincinnati since…ever. Granted, it’s not competing with much. You’ve got one of the worst NFL teams in history, Jerry Springer (former mayor, YIKES!), a murky intestinal-shaped slurry called the Ohio River, and we won’t even get into the westside. Just know it exists, and you don’t need to go there.
 

Formerly crowned ‘Pork Processing Capital of the World’ (please try to contain your jealousy) thanks to its large concentration of German immigrants, so you’d think blood sausages and bratwurst would be Cincinnati’s crowning jewel. But no, it’s the Greek stew meets chili meets spaghetti sauce created by Macedonian immigrants in the 1920’s that reigns supreme.

The truth is it’s good. I mean damn good. So good, you’ll be willing to overlook the abnormal activity of placing chili on top of spaghetti noodles. Granted, you can also go with the chili dog affectionately referred to as a ‘coney’ and equally as delicious. But the fun doesn’t stop there. You proceed to what is known as ordering via the ‘way’ system, which is as follows:

 

  • Two-way: spaghetti topped with chili (also called “chili spaghetti”)
  • Three-way: spaghetti, chili, and cheese
  • Four-way onion: spaghetti, chili, and cheese w/ onions or cheese (Four-way w/onion is where it’s at!)
  • Five-way: spaghetti, chili, beans, onions, and cheese
You then add a good dose of hot sauce (crystals or franks) and serve up oyster crackers on the side.
You’ll find over 250 chili parlors in the greater Cincinnati area, all serving up their own variations of the original recipe. This iconic recipe separates itself from its distant cousins with two star ingredients: cinnamon and chocolate. In effect, creating the Mediterranean-spiced sauce Cincinnatians have come to love.

 

Ingredients
  • 2 lb ground beef
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 15oz can tomato sauce
  • 16 oz chicken stock
  • 2 tbsp cider vinegar
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 oz unsweetened chocolate

Spice Mix

  • 1/4 cup chili powder
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp ground allspice
  • 1/4 tsp ground clove
  • 2 bay leaves 

Step by Step Instructions

Step 1

Combine spices for mix and set aside.

Heat dutch oven or large pot over medium-high heat and add oil.

Once oil shimmers, add beef and brown to develop flavor and texture – no need to cook through just develop browning.

Remove beef with slotted spoon or spider strainer. 

Step 2

Add onion and garlic – cook in beef fat and oil until translucent.

Add spice mixture to onion mix to toast lightly in oil. 

 

Step 3

Add beef, tomato sauce, and chicken stock to pot and bring to a simmer.

Once simmering, add chocolate, cider vinegar, and worcestershire and stir to combine. 

 

 

Step 4

Simmer and reduce until mixture has become homogeneous and thickened – about 30 – 45 minutes 

Step 5

When sauce is ready, cook spaghetti in large pot of salted water until al dente.

Drain pasta and toss in 1 tsp of oil. 

Plate up with spaghetti, meat sauce, onions and beans (if using), and shredded cheese. 

 

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