The Chili from Cincinnati

The Chili from Cincinnati

Cincinnati Chili is unique in the chili world.  I had eaten it, but never made it when a friend requested it special.  To the Internet…  The first thing I discovered, is that authentic Cincinnati Chili begins with boiling the beef.  OK.  Weird.  The next unique element of this chili is the spice combination.

The chili was created by a Macedonian immigrant to Ohio.  In addition to more traditional spices like chili powder and cumin, this chili is also made with chocolate, cinnamon, allspice and cloves.  The result is a relatively lowfat chili with just a little spice tempered with other more complex aromas.  It is pretty freakin’ fantastic and easy too.  Often, it is served over spaghetti with cheddar cheese and onions, but you can change it up however you like.  For instance, it is delicious mixed into scrambled eggs for breakfast the next day.

Cincinnati Chili
Adapted from Allrecipes

  • 3 1/2 pounds ground beef
  • 7-8 cups water, or amount to cover
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 3 (15 ounce) cans tomato sauce
  • 3 tablespoons vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 (1 ounce) square unsweetened chocolate
  • 3-4 tablespoons chili powder (start with less and add more)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 5 whole cloves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 pound spaghetti (optional)
  • shredded cheddar (optional)
  • chopped white onion (optional)

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 until fat solidifies on the top (like overnight).

Skim the solid fat from the top of the pan and discard. 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, 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.

Serve with al dente spaghetti, cheddar cheese and chopped onion.