One of my favorite regional dishes is a comfort food popular in southern Ohio called Cincinnati chili. It’s somewhat misnamed since it’s not really chili as we normally think of it. Cincinnati Chili is really pasta with chili.
A specialty of the greater Cincinnati area, Cincinnati chili is beef chili made with a mix of atypical spices (compared to Texas chili) such as allspice and cinnamon. Skyline Chili and Gold Star Chili are the best-known Cincinnati chili purveyors, but there are many throughout southern Ohio, each seemingly with its own secret recipe.
Cincinnati chili is typically served atop spaghetti (usually slightly overcooked; not al dente). When you order Cincinnati chili, it’s helpful to know the following styles:
2-way: chili & spaghetti
3-way: chili, spaghetti & shredded cheese
4-way: chili, spaghetti, cheese & onions
5-way: chili, spaghetti, cheese, onions & beans
In addition, it’s de rigueur to serve Cincinnati chili with oyster crackers on the side. Hot sauce is another typical accompaniment.
As I said, there are a gazillion different Cincinnati chili recipes; this one is my favorite. Don’t let the number of ingredients dissuade you from making it as it’s actually very simple. Just dump everything into a pot and go! This is also a meal that’s very popular with kids.
- 2 lbs. lean ground beef
- 1 qt. water
- 1 28-oz. can tomato sauce
- 1 28-oz. can peeled whole tomatoes or stewed tomatoes
- 2 finely chopped onions
- 2 Tbs. cocoa powder
- 2 Tbs. chili powder
- 1 tsp. salt
- 2 tsp. ground allspice
- 1 tsp. ground cumin
- 2 tsp. cinnamon
- 1 tsp. ground black pepper
- 2 Tbs. white vinegar
- 2 minced garlic cloves
- 3 bay leaves
Optional toppings: finely shredded cheddar cheese, minced onions, kidney beans
Put all of the ingredients into a dutch oven or crock pot and cook slowly, barely simmering, for 4-5 hours. It’s virtually impossible to overcook Cincinnati chili. If cooking in a crock pot, you might want to decrease the amount of water. Just eyeball it. You can always add more water, if needed. The finished product should be fairly “wet,” – more saucy or soupy than Texas chili would be.
Remove the bay leaves before serving.
An important note: DO NOT brown the meat before cooking. Authentic Cincinnati chili requires that the meat stew with the spices. That’s why I recommend lean ground beef, since you won’t be able to drain off the fat.
Serve on a bed of spaghetti, along with optional accompaniments like onions, beans, crackers and such.
THIS CONTENT IS FROM UTAH BITES NEWSLETTER.
GET OUR WEEKLY UPDATES, RESTAURANT REVIEWS, TED’S FAVORITE RECIPE OF THE WEEK AND MORE DIRECTLY TO YOUR MAILBOX .
TO SIGN UP FOR FREE GO HERE.