Growing up in Cincinnati, we knew nothing but Cincinnati chili, heck we hardly even knew of Texas or for that matter green chili! Cincinnati Chili was it, the be all and end all, the bomb.
To us Cincinnatians, it is and always will be the best chili in the world. For the past 25 years since I have lived out of Ohio, my friends have always supplied me with cans or dry packets of seasoning mix to make my ultimate comfort food! Now, the pickings are slim so I needed to figure a way to re-create it!
One of my first jobs was slinging coney dogs and 3-ways (ha) at Gold Star Chili and when I got older, late night munchies at Skyline Chili. They made Goldstar Chili across the valley in Mt. Washington from my neighborhood and we woke up to the smell of fresh chili every morning! I think this is why I crave it, I can still smell it! Ah, the memories!
Now that I’m older and a total foodie, I have tasted some simply amazing “real” chilies but I still crave what I grew up with. Cincinnati Chili was invented by some Greek Families back in the day and they incorporated crazy ingredients like cinnamon, cloves, and chocolate! Who knew that mixing all these things up in a meat and tomato sauce and served over spaghetti would be so good? Here is a great article about the history of Cincinnati Chili. Give it a read if you are interested.
So I have heard it before, Cincinnati Chili is all wrong. It is. It’s totally wrong if you grew up eating something totally different. You should try this though. It’s really a sauce that you eat over spaghetti! Yes, I said spaghetti! Here is the scoop and this is how you eat it, it’s not normal, but this is a good thing!
Chili- just plain with oyster crackers with or without cheese and onions
2-way chili with spaghetti and oyster crackers
3-way chili with spaghetti, sharp cheddar cheese, and oyster crackers
4-way chili with spaghetti, sharp cheddar cheese, freshly chopped white onions and oyster crackers (my favorite way).
5-way chili with spaghetti, sharp cheddar cheese, onions and cooked kidney beans and oyster crackers.
You can also get a Chili Cheese sandwich (without a hot dog, just a bun and chili and cheese, with or without onions) or a good old coney hot dog with sauce cheese with or without onions!
With all the variations, a good dose of Tabasco sauce is in order (or at least for me)! Oh, I remembered all the lingo from my days of slinging chili! LOL!
So versatile and delicious! I dare you to try this! Go out of the box and eat this Cincinnati Chili over spaghetti, make a 4-way, eat a chili cheese sandwich. Heck, make it for a party and feed a crowd, feed the family, feed anyone that you want! For all my Cincy friends, this is so darn close to the original, you should try it, make it and store in your freezer for those late night munchies or just when you are craving what we know best! AHA-mazing Cincinnati Chili!
- 2 pounds 80/20 ground beef
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 cup diced onions
- 2 tablespoons minced garlic
- 1 28- ounce can tomato puree
- 4 cups beef stock
- 1 oz dark chocolate bittersweet
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 tablespoons chili powder
- 1 tablespoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- Spaghetti optional
- Shredded sharp cheddar cheese optional
- Extra onions optional
- Kidney beans warmed through (optional)
- Oyster crackers mandatory
- Tabasco sauce mandatory in my book
- Brown ground beef until cooked through and meat is in small pieces. Remove from heat and drain in a colander. Set aside.
- Heat up olive oil and cook onions for about 3 minutes, add garlic and cook for one minute more. Add the ground beef back to the pot and turn down the heat to medium-low.
- Stir in tomatoes, beef broth, and chocolate. Add the salt and pepper, bay leaf, chili powder, cumin, coriander, cloves, cinnamon, cayenne, Worcestershire and cider vinegar, stir to combine well.
- Cover and simmer for an hour or so, stirring occasionally. See recipe notes for serving ideas.