Have you ever come across a recipe where you look at the ingredients and say, “Nope, too weird for me”? The ingredients did not seem like something your palette would enjoy or they were too far off from ingredients you are used to seeing in a similar recipe. Let me explain. When you think of Chili, what do you think of? Ground beef, onions, chili powder, beans, and other traditional spices, right? Would you ever consider putting cinnamon or even chocolate in your chili? Or consider serving it over spaghetti or on a bed of beans that were not included in the simmering pot of chili? Probably not. But, take a moment and listen to my story about how Cincinnati Chili changed the way I think about chili and my traditional recipe.
I was first introduced to Cincinnati Chili by my stepmother, Sharon while living with her and my dad in Florida. It was a great time spending a few months with them while my husband was in flight training. They both love to cook and try new restaurants, so I had fun being introduced to their favorites! One of them was Cincinnati Chili, or Skyline Chili. I had never heard of it and really, what could be so different about a place that serves chili? Meat, beans, tomato, onions…maybe a kick of spice, right? Wrong. This was completely different. Ask anyone from Cincinnati. This chili is the mainstay in their beloved city. It is like the Cheese Steak is to someone from Philly or Deep Dish Pizza is to someone from Chicago. It is native to the area, and people love it!
What makes Cincinnati Chili so different is two things, what goes in it and how it is served. Cincinnati Chili starts with the traditional ground beef, onions, tomato sauce, and even chili powder, but then there is the rich, earthy combination of spices that go into it…Cumin, that’s ok. But, then…then, there is the all spice, cinnamon, cloves and even, CHOCOLATE! What? Stop right there. Chocolate? Yes, and it is balanced out by adding cider vinegar and a splash of Worcestershire sauce. Don’t stop reading. There is more.
Finally, what finishes the adventure is how it is served. It is served 3-way, 4-way or even 5-way. What does that mean? The basic Cincinnati Chili is served on a bed of spaghetti and topped with finely shredded cheddar cheese. That is a 3-way. Next, you make it 4-way by adding bean or onions. If you choose to top the 3-way with beans AND onions, that is what makes a 5-way. But, you can get crazy and order it All The Way and have it served with a side of Oyster Crackers. This recipe is shear chili genius. Something you have to try once in your lifetime. You will love it! Personally I think the added bonus is how all those amazing spices simmering on the stove make my house smell. It is the perfect, gotta try for your next football gathering or on a cool, fall day.
Thank you Sharon for introducing me to Cincinnati Chili. It took me out of my comfort zone when I think of chili and made me more daring when it comes to trying new recipes. So, come on. You feeling a little adventurous? Put Cincinnati Chili on your list of “Never Thought I Would Like It, But Now It Is One Of My Favorites”. You won’t be disappointed.
- 2 lbs ground beef
- 2 cups chopped onions
- 4 cups beef stock
- 2 (8 ounce) cans tomato sauce
- 2 -3 tablespoons chili powder
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
- ½ ounce grated unsweetened chocolate or 2¾ tablespoons cocoa
- 2 teaspoons instant minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon ground red pepper or ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- ¼ teaspoon ground allspice
- ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 bay leaves or ⅛ teaspoon bay leaf powder
- 1 16 oz box dry spaghetti, cooked according to package directions
- chopped onion (optional)
- finely shredded cheddar cheese ( certainly NOT optional)
- 1 can kidney beans (optional)
- Brown ground beef and onion. Drain.
- Add beef stock to beef mixture and simmer 10 minutes.
- Add remaining 13 ingredients, simmer uncovered 1-2 hours.
- Warm kidney beans in a sauce pan.
- Remove bay leaf, skim off extra fat.
- Serve over hot spaghetti and top with cheese, onion, and kidney beans, if desired.