Cincinnati Chili is a unique comfort food classic. It’s slow simmered and then served 1 of 5 ways. A midwestern favorite!
One of the benefits about winter break, other than the obvious holidays, gift giving, and sparkling things, is the extended time off from school. That full 14 days allows us to do things that Thanksgiving and all the little three-day weekends during the school year don’t. (And also, NO HOMEWORK. Hallelujah.) Things like visit friends that we never ever get to see!
A dear friend of mine from college lives a few hours from us, so we do the usual trading of notes on Facebook and annual Christmas card in the mail. But this past week, we actually got to hang out. It was awesome.
She served this Cincinnati Chili for lunch. I’d never had it before, but of course I love trying new foods. When I scanned the list of ingredients, though, I was like “Huh. Cinnamon? Allspice? Cocoa powder? What the WHAT?” She, being a Cincinnati native, swore by it and said, “Calm down. You’re going to love it.” Lol.
And I did!
It was so different than any other chili I’ve ever had before…and really delicious! The beef is crushed up into tiny pieces, boiled (weird!), then sits in the fridge overnight to allow the fat to set, which is scraped off in the morning. Then it simmers with seasonings and a tomato sauce mixture for several hours. Finally, it’s served one of five ways. I chose 5-Way, which is over spaghetti, with cheddar cheese, onions, and chili beans.
Of course I grabbed the recipe from her. Perfect comfort food for winter and game day!
- 2 pounds lean ground beef
- 1 quart water , or amount to cover
- 2 small sweet onions , finely diced
- 4 cloves garlic , minced
- 1 can (15 ounce) tomato sauce
- 2 tablespoons vinegar
- 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
- 3 tablespoons chili powder
- 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon allspice
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 5 whole cloves
- 1 bay leaf
- cooked spaghetti , shredded cheddar cheese, diced onions, and chili beans, for serving
Place ground beef in a large pan, cover with the water and bring to a boil; stirring and breaking up the beef with a fork into a fine texture. Gently simmer until thoroughly cooked, about 30 minutes. Remove from heat and place pan in the refrigerator overnight.
The next day, skim off the solid fat from the top of the pan and discard.
Place beef mixture over medium heat and stir in all the other ingredients; bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a gentle simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 2-3 hours to absorb all the flavors and thicken. (Add a little water, if necessary, to avoid chili from sticking to the pan and/or burning.)
Discard the bay leaf and cloves (if you can find them!)
Serve 1 of 5 ways (see notes)
Serve 1 of 5 ways
2-way = with spaghetti
3-way = with spaghetti and cheddar cheese
4-way = with spaghetti, cheese, onions
5-way - with spaghetti, cheese, onions, and chili beans
Other game day recipes you might like!
One Pot Chili Mac and Cheese – Belly Full
Southwestern Saucers – Belly Full
5-Minute Fully Loaded Ranch Dip – Dash of Sanity
Bread Bowl Pizza Dip – Wine and Glue