I was searching for a happy medium that would satisfy my pasta and chili hankerings without starving my poor, picky hubby and my very particular 10 year old. I am an Ohio native, born in Cleveland, and I lived in the greater Cleveland area till I was 12 and moved here to Virginia. So I am pretty surprised that I had never heard of Cincinnati Chili until about a year ago, while searching for an alternative to spaghetti and meatballs that everyone would enjoy.
I found this recipe online, and I was intrigued by the list of ingredients. It is VERY different, and I just had to try it. The meat sauce has such a unique flavor profile! I have never had anything quite like it. It has your typical meat sauce ingredients, as well as cinnamon, allspice, cloves, and even CHOCOLATE! I will say, it is quite time consuming to make. But the smell that fills the house while the sauce is simmering away makes it well worth the wait.
Cincinnati Chili was first made by a Greek immigrant in Cincinnati, Ohio. A very famous regional restaurant, Skyline, made this dish famous. There are many ways to serve this dish. Some of the more traditional ways include:
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
Since I don't eat onions, I prefer to eat mine 3-way, with just spaghetti, the chili, and shredded cheddar cheese on top!
This is a very tasty and unique dish that is definitely sure to satisfy. Try it sometime, and let me know what you think! It seems a bit daunting to prepare when reading the instructions, but rest assured, it is fairly simple to make. Here is the most authentic recipe, which also happens to be my favorite! And yes, I have tried several variations!
- 2 pounds lean ground beef
- 1 quart water, or amount to cover
- 2 onions, finely chopped
- 1 (15 ounce) can tomato sauce
- 2 tablespoons vinegar
- 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 (1 ounce) square unsweetened chocolate
- 1/4 cup chili powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
- 5 whole cloves
- 5 whole allspice berries
- 1 bay leaf
- Place the ground beef in a large pan, cover with about 1 quart of cold water, and bring to a boil, stirring and breaking up the beef with a fork to a fine texture. Slowly boil until the meat is thoroughly cooked, about 30 minutes, then remove from heat and refrigerate in the pan overnight.
- The next day, skim the solid fat from the top of the pan, and discard the fat. Place the beef mixture over medium heat, and stir in the onions, tomato sauce, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, chocolate, chili powder, salt, cumin, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, cloves, allspice berries, and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 3 hours. Add water if necessary to prevent the chili from burning.