Cincinnati Chili is decidedly different and delicious. This chili is a combination of Macedonia and Greek flavors mixed with conventional chili flavors in a delicious meat stew.
I was born in Kentucky. Hence the Beer Cheese, Derby Pie, and Hot Browns. Those last two I’ve made in a few different variations. It will always be home even though I haven’t lived there since I was 7.
You’re saying, “What does this have to Cincinnati chili?” Where we lived in Kentucky was pretty darn close to Cincinnati. I am a Cincinnati Reds fan just like Nana. We used to be Bengals fans until we moved to the Washington, DC area. Now I’m a Reskins fan. Don’t hate.
But, I don’t remember having Cincinnati chili when we lived near there. I do remember Skyline Chili when we moved to Northern Virginia. GO figure!
If you haven’t heard of Cincinnati chili before, then where have you been? Next to bean or no bean it’s 5 way, 4 way, etc. While I’ve been eating this type of chili for a while, I had no idea that one way is just the chili. Who says that? It’s at least two way. And I had no idea that five way had beans. So, there’s already beans in there. You’re at least getting two way when you make it.
Let me explain. When you’re ordering Cincinnati chili, it’s like a cheesesteak, almost. Wit or witout – Cheeze Whiz that is. For Cincinnati chili, they call it ways:
Two way – chili and spaghetti
Three way – chili, spaghetti, and cheese
Four way – chili, spaghetti, cheese, and onions
Five way – chili, spaghetti, cheese, onions, and beans
What’s so special about this chili? It has a different flavor to it. It has chocolate and some other sweet spices in it. Cincinnati was like a melting pot for Macedonia immigrant restaurateurs. Macedonia, even though it’s in Europe, has more Mediterranean flavor to its dishes. This includes influences from Greece.
Have you heard of pastitsio? Or have you seen my pastitsada meatballs? You should check them out. They’re really delicious and explain how Cincinnati chili sort of came about. The flavors in pastitsio or pastitsada are in Cincinnati chili.
This Cincinnati Chili has tomato and beef flavors. That’s a given. It also has a little bit of chocolate, some cinnamon, and some allspice. Not a lot. Trust me. It’s just enough to have an additional level of flavor that your guests may or may not be able to pinpoint. I love recipes like this one.
Just look at how dark and rich that chili is. It has complex, delicious flavor that your family will ask for time and time again. The chocolate adds almost a mole type flavor. The cinnamon and allspice are layers of flavor that add intense flavor and depth. I can’t wait for chili season to start again so I can make this chili.
What’s your favorite chili recipe?
- 2 cups diced onion
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 pounds ground beef
- 2 cups tomato juice
- 2 cups beef broth
- 8 ounces tomato paste
- 14 ounces kidney beans
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 2 teaspoons cumin
- 4 tablespoons chili powder
- 1 1/2 tablespoons cocoa powder
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon allspice
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- pinch of cloves
- 4 cups cooked spaghetti
- 1/2 cup diced red onion
- 4 cups shredded, cheddar cheese
- Heat a large Dutch oven coated with cooking spray over medium high heat. Sauté onions until they begin to soften before adding the garlic. Sauté 1 to 2 minutes or until the garlic becomes fragrant. Crumble the ground beef into the pot to brown.
- Once the beef browns, stir in the tomato juice, beef broth, and tomato paste. Stir well to make sure the tomato paste is dissolved.
- Stir in the next eleven ingredients (kidney beans through cloves) and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook 1 to 2 hours or until thickened and the flavors have combined.
- Divide the spaghetti between four plates or bowls. Top with a ladle or two of chili and top with red onion and cheese.
- 3-way = spaghetti topped with chili and cheese
- 4-way = spaghetti topped with chili, onions or beans and cheese
- 5-way = spaghetti topped with chili, onions, beans, and cheese