September 7, 2009

Cincinnati Chili


a layer each of spaghetti, chili, kidney beans, chopped red onion, grated extra-sharp cheddar cheese, and sprinkled with a few oyster crackers

I make Authentic Texas Border chili often and eat it without beans. We also like it on spaghetti topped with grated cheddar cheese. A few weeks ago I watched an episode of America's Test Kitchen preparing 5-Way Cincinnati Chili which has one layer each of spaghetti, chili, kidney beans, chopped onions, and finely grated cheese in that order. We didn't know we've been eating 3-Way Cincinnati Chili with a Texan accent, i.e. hot spicy chili. I adapted and combined 2 recipes, one from my cookbook CHILI MADNESS and the Test Kitchen's using both fresh and powdered cayenne. I think the Test Kitchen's is too bland and uses bottled chili powder but I like the idea of boiling the beef and the addition of cocoa powder.

I am surprised that I love Cincinnati Chili which is rather saucy or soupy, and the aroma of the sweet and hot spices is wonderful. I was expecting the combination of flavors to taste funny or weird but they are all subtle and amazingly blend well together. I even added a sixth topping, a few pieces of oyster crackers which give it a good crunch and found myself eating them with some of the sauce remaining on the plate. And this is the first time that I didn't dislike beans in my chili. In fact I like it and IMHO the dish wouldn't taste the same without them.

Try one or both recipes and find out for yourself just how good and different this chili is. I read that the better way to eat Cincinnati chili is to cut the spaghetti instead of twirling with fork because twirling makes such a mess on the table, not to mention your clothes. So I started cutting and eating all 5 layers by the forkful and I agree, cutting makes a lot of sense. Anyway, 5-way Cincinnati chili is delicious any way you eat it.

Murray's Girlfriend's Cincinnati Chili
from CHILI MADNESS by Jane Butel

2 teaspoons butter
2 pounds ground beef
6 bay leaves
1 large onion, finely chopped
6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons allspice
6 whole cloves, crushed
4 tablespoons vinegar
1 teaspoon dried whole red pepper, crushed
1½ teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons pure ground red hot chile
1 teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon oregano, preferably Mexican
1 6-ounce can tomato paste
6 cups water
cooked kidney beans

8 ounces vermicelli, cooked according to package directions
½ cup grated cheddar cheese
1 small onion, finely chopped
  • Heat the butter in a large heavy skillet/pot over medium-high heat. Add the meat to the skillet. Break up any lumps with a fork and cook, stirring occasionally, until the meat is evenly browned.
  • Stir in all the ingredients up through the water. Taste and adjust seasonings. Bring the mixture to a boil, then lower heat and simmer, uncovered, for 2 to 4 hours. Add the kidney beans to the mixture half an hour before serving.
  • Place a small amount of vermicelli in individual bowls. Spoon a generous amount of chili. Top with grated cheese and chopped onion.

Cincinnati Chili
8 cups water
2 pounds minced beef
3 bay leaves
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground cloves
2 teaspoons allspice
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
2 teaspoons oregano
2 teaspoons ground cayenne
2 fresh cayenne, finely minced (or more)
2 teaspoons cocoa powder
2 medium onions, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tablespoon sea salt
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 teaspoon dark brown sugar
1 6-ounce can tomato paste
  • Put water into a large pot, bring to a boil. Crumble ground beef into the boiling water, break up any lumps with a potato masher. Boil for 30 minutes. Add all the remaining ingredients and return to boiling. Stir, reduce heat, and let simmer, uncovered, for 3 hours. Remove bay leaves. Transfer into a serving dish.
  • To serve: In individual bowls, place a layer each in this order: spaghetti, chili, kidney beans, onions, and cheese (you can be as cheesy as you want). Adding oyster crackers is optional. Enjoy!


Sidney said...

Unknown to me... hmmm....might give that a try!

What's Cookin Chicago said...

I've heard fabulous things about Cincinnati chili but have yet to really have it (at least, an authentic version). With the fall weather around the corner, I look forward to trying more chili recipes, including this one, so thank you for posting!

holly may said...

it should be chopped white onions, not red! :)

Oggi said...

Sidney, it's good.:)

Joelen, I also plan to cook a large pot of chili and portion freeze so that when we get the craving all we have to do is reheat.

Holly May, the recipe here has white onion but we don't like the strong flavor when uncooked and can only tolerate red.:)

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