Cincinnati Chili

It’s football Sunday!  We haven’t had Cincinnati Chili yet this year so I decided to make some today.  Technically I should have made it yesterday because it’s better the second day.  It’ll be good today too, though.  And the hardest thing about this is spelling Cincinnati correctly.  If you’ve never had Cincinnati Chili the first thing you need to know is that it’s more like chili sauce  than it is chili you eat out of a bowl.  You serve it over spaghetti topped with cheese and onions.  Yum!

There are lots of recipes for this.  I have to assume that the goal in most instances is to make it taste as much like Skyline Chili as possible.  At least that’s the case for those of us who don’t live in any reasonable proximity to a Skyline.  Whichever recipe you choose just remember that it has to cook for several hours so you’ll need to plan ahead.  What I like about this recipe is the addition of a little cider vinegar.  It gives a nice tang.  A little cayenne gives a nice heat.  The cinnamon, cloves and all spice make you think there’s a little sweet too.  Good stuff.

I used Greenway Beef for this along with the recommended beef stock.  If you use beef make the chili far enough ahead that you can let it sit long enough for the fat to rise to the top so you can skim it.  Some recipes recommend that you cook the beef and then skim the fat before adding the other ingredients and simmering the chili.  I always wait until the end.  The reality is that fat adds flavor so I leave it in for the cooking.  Then it’s done its job and you can skim it without sacrificing flavor. 

I’ve made Cincinnati Chili with soy crumbles too and it’s very good.  You can always use water or vegetable stock along with tomato sauce for the liquid.  Serve the vegetarian variety chili over whole wheat spaghetti and it’s nearly a health food!  Or use one pound of beef and one pound of veggie crumbles just to lighten it up a little. 

If you’re going to the trouble of making something that simmers for 3 hours you might as well make extra for the freezer.  Once during a tropical storm I fed a dozen people with a big pot of this chili and three boxes of spaghetti.  Always good to have some emergency supplies on hand!

Good? So good.  Comfort food.
Easy? Absolutely.
Good for company? Absolutely.
Special shopping? Nope.

Cincinnati Chili


1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 pounds ground beef
1/4 cup chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 bay leaf
1/2 (1 ounce) square unsweetened chocolate
2 1/2 C beef broth
2 C tomato sauce
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper


1.Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring frequently, until tender, about 6 minutes.
2.Add beef, in batches if necessary, and cook, breaking up with a wooden spoon, until browned.
3.Add chili powder, cinnamon, cumin, allspice, cloves, bay leaf, chocolate, beef broth, tomato sauce, cider vinegar, and red pepper. Stir to mix well. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally.
4.It is the best if you now refrigerate overnight.
5.Remove the bay leaf. Reheat gently over medium heat. Serve over hot, drained spaghetti. Top with shredded cheddar cheese and diced onions.


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