Cincinnati Chili is not only well-loved but well-debated. Ask anyone who lives in, or once lived in, Cincinnati and they will tell you exactly what their chili should or shouldn't contain. They'll also tell you which chili parlor (there are more than 140 in Cincinnati) is the best and which 'way' they prefer their bowl.
Its origins being Greek in nature, the spice blend is different than Texas chili, and the beans are an option, not a must. Cinnamon, allspice and cumin are heavy-hitters in this chili and the flavor is like no other.
There's no denying the intrigue and fun of this dish, though and this version is as close to the 'real-deal' as you may find. I'm sure I'll hear an argument to the contrary, and from passionate Cincinnati Chili lovers, I'd expect no less.
Ready In: 3 hours
1 pound ground round
3 cups water
3 Tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 clove garlic, minced
1 bay leaf
1 Tablespoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon paprika
1 Tablespoon ground cumin
Salt and ground pepper to taste
1 pound spaghetti - cooked and kept warm
2 cups kidney beans - cooked and kept warm
8 ounces finely shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 medium white onion - chopped
1. Break up ground round as finely as possible and add to a large pot. Add water, tomato paste, garlic, bay leaf and spices. Cook at a simmer (medium-low heat), breaking up beef as it cooks so it will be very fine. This is important to the end product.
2. Cook beef for a total of 3 hours, leaving the grease that forms on top - that's a vital part of the flavor. Remove the bay leaf and stir well. Season with salt and pepper as desired.
3. For the different 'ways' to eat Cincinnati Chili, follow the instructions below:
2-way: Cooked spaghetti topped with chili.
3-Way: 2-way with shredded cheddar added on top.
4-Way: 3-Way with diced onions on top.
5-Way: 4-Way with cooked kidney beans added on top.