Other than Texas, Cincinnati, Ohio is the most chili-crazed city in the US. There are more that 180 chili shops throughout the state. Cincinnati chili is very different than the more famous Texas chili con carne, not only in its roots – Spain via Mexico (Texas) vs. Greece (Cincinnati). Its thinner consistency, Middle Eastern flavor profile with cinnamon and chocolate, and the way it’s served over spaghetti makes Cincinnati chili unique.
Ordering Cincinnati chili is an art form all its own. You order your chili by the number of toppings you want over your spaghetti; Two-way, just chili; Three-way, chili and a pile of shredded cheese; Four-way, chili, cheese and chopped onions; Five-way (“the works”); chili, cheese, onion, and kidney beans. Crunchy oyster crackers and sour cream are always served on the side.
- Large pot
- large saucepan
- 1½ lb Ground beef (80% lean)
- 2 tsp Kosher salt
- 1 tbsp Vegetable oil
- 2 medium Onions, finely chopped
- 4 cloves Garlic, minced
- 2 tbsp Chili powder
- 2 tsp Dried oregano
- 1½ tsp Ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp Each: ground allspice, black pepper, and cayenne pepper
- 2 cups Water
- 2 cups Chicken stock
- 2 cups Canned tomato sauce
- 2 tbsp Apple cider vinegar
- 1 oz Bittersweet chocolate
- 2 tsp Unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 lb Spaghetti
- 2 tbsp Unsalted butter
- 1 medium Red or vidalia onion, chopped
- 12 oz Sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
- 1 cup Sour cream
- 1 can Kidney beans, drained and rinsed
- 6 packs Oyster crackers or Saltines
- Bring 2 quarts of salted water to a boil in a large saucepan. Working quickly, add ground beef to boiling water and stir to break up the meat. Right before the water returns to a boil, 30-45 seconds, drain meat into a colander and set aside. Rinse out saucepan and return to stove.
- Heat oil in the same saucepan over medium heat. Add onions and cook, stirring, until soft and browning on the edges, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook another minute. Stir in 1 tsp salt, chili powder, cayenne, black pepper, oregano, allspice, and cinnamon. After 30 seconds, add 2 cups of water, chicken broth, tomato sauce, and apple cider vinegar.
- Return ground beef to the saucepan and increase heat to high. When chili starts to boil, reduce heat medium-low and simmer uncovered for an hour. Stir in bittersweet chocolate and simmer 5 minutes more. Turn heat off and add cocoa powder and salt to taste.While chili is cooking, boil spaghetti to the instructions on the package. Drain and put in a large bowl with 2 tbsp butter to keep from sticking together. To serve: divide spaghetti between serving bowls and top in order with chili, cheese, and sprinkle of chopped onions. Serve kidney beans, sour cream, chopped onions, and oyster crackers on the side.