Cincinnati Chili- the right way

This is the plate of chili I just ate. I had already started when I realized I needed a picture. I know, I know. I don’t put cheese on mine. It’s a two-way with beans and onions. And it is my right to eat it this way.

I’m from Springfield, Ohio. It’s about an hour from Cincinnati. So I grew up cheering for the Reds and eating Cincinnati Chili. When I went away to college in Athens, I found I was outnumbered as a Reds fan. Fortunately there was still Goldstar. I even worked there one summer. But the further I moved from my hometown, the harder it was to find real Cincinnati chili. You can buy it canned. But it’s expensive. And there are recipes online. But they were just never right.

Necessity was the mother of invention. I spent years (literally? Yes.) developing this recipe. Sure, the ingredients are pretty readily available. But I haven’t found another method that turns out as authentic as mine.

*One note before we get started. “Chili” is almost a misnomer. This isn’t something you would eat out of a bowl with a spoon. It’s more of a sauce.

This method needs to be followed fairly precisely. Don’t brown the ground beef first. Seriously. Don’t. I nearby revoke your privileges to use this recipe if you’re planning to brown the ground beef first. And while we’re at it, use ground beef. I’m all for ground turkey in things. I use it all the time. But not in this.

Ready? Here we go.

1 pound extra-lean ground beef (hamburger)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon red (cayenne) pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa or 1/2 ounce grated unsweetened chocolate
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
3 cups water
1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste

1 (16-ounce) package uncooked dried thin spaghetti pasta

Toppings: 1 large onion (chopped), finely shredded cheddar cheese, red beans

Note: Do first several steps (combining ingredients) on cold stove.

Put raw hamburger into large skillet or saucepot. Sprinkle garlic and spices on top and crumble together with wooden spoon. Add Worcestershire, cidar vinegar, and water. Bring to boil, uncovered. Stir in tomato paste, return to boil. Reduce heat to simmer. Allow sauce to simmer/ reduce/ thicken- uncovered- for 45 minutes, stirring often. The longer it boils, the better it is. I’ll sometimes leave it for ten minutes or so at the end without stirring. It can be pretty greasy, and this helps the grease separate so it’s easily scooped out with a ladle.

While sauce simmers, cook thin spaghetti according to package directions. (Do not overcook, and DO NOT add olive oil.)

Cincinnati Chili is ordered at restaurants in “ways.” Layer each serving according to each person’s taste.

Two-Way: Spaghetti, then chili
Three-Way: Spaghetti, chili, then cheese
Four-Way: Spaghetti, chili, beans OR onions, then cheese
Five-Way: Spaghetti, chili, beans, onions, then cheese

Optional: hot sauce on top

Cincinnati Chili tastes best if the layers remain intact as much as possible. Therefore it’s better to slice your fork through it rather than spin it like spaghetti. It’s also great over hot dogs with cheese and onions.


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: The Dr Oz Three Day Cleanse: A Review | Thoroughly Modern Mommy
  2. Trackback: 38 More Days: The Dr. Oz 3-Day Cleanse | Thoroughly Modern Mommy

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