Friday, October 4, 2013

Cincinnati Chili

Cincinnati chili

Cincinnati chili has to be one of the oddest dishes I've ever had. Geographically, it's all over the map. At its base is chili, the Tex-Mex staple, but spiced with a blend that's vaguely Middle Eastern and then served over noodles like a kind of spicy spaghetti with meat sauce. And it's from the Midwest.

I wouldn't dismiss this though just because it's weird. It's quite good, especially leftover the next day when all the flavors have had time to blend together well.

Cincinnati has an unusual but wonderfully fragrant combination of spices.

Since it has cayenne pepper in it, this chili is pretty spicy. In a way, it's spicier than the Chili Con Carne, which had more of a background heat to it.

When ordering Cincinnati chili, there's a code for how you want it that refers to the extras, which Wikipedia describes well. My chili sort of messes up the code system, since I added the beans to the pot instead of serving them as an extra, and I didn't include any additional raw onion. I guess that makes this a "four-way bean" sort of.

Cincinnati Chili
Adapted from multiple recipe sources

1 lb. lean ground beef
2 yellow onions, diced
Salt or seasoned salt, to taste
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp. chili powder
1 tbsp. sweet paprika
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp. ground allspice
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/4 tsp. ground clove
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 cups tomato sauce or crushed tomatoes (I used the latter, since I had it on hand to use up)
28 oz. can of red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 bay leaf
1 lb. cooked spaghetti (cooked al dente, according to package directions)
Generous amount of shredded cheddar cheese

1. Heat a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add beef and cook until browned, breaking up with a wooden spoon. Remove beef from pan (or if using an oval sauté pan, push to one end).

2. Add onion to pan, season to taste with salt (or seasoned salt), and sauté until softened, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 1-2 minutes. Add chili powder, paprika, oregano, cocoa powder, cayenne pepper, allspice, cumin and clove and continue cooking, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about a minute.

3. Add the chicken broth, cider vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, tomato sauce, kidney beans and bay leaf to the pot. Increase heat and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer uncovered for about 20 to 30 minutes until the mixture has thickened. Serve in a large bowl over spaghetti topped with a generous heap of shredded cheddar cheese.


  1. Weird but good. And I didn't mind the spiciness.

    1. I'm glad you're enjoying spicy food more. I know you had your fair share of it with chili week.

  2. I love Cincinnati chili, but I think your recipe looks like something I'd want to duplicate at home. Gonna give this a try next week.

    1. Thanks John! If you make it, please let me know how it turns out.

  3. You need a soupier chili and much more of it - coating your pasta. Then a MOUND of cheese so that it has real heft to it. THEN you have Cincinnati chili.