Chili with Unexpected Spices

As a child, my family would drive to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina for March Break every year.  Dad would do all of the driving and we’d take I75 all the way to Knoxville, Tennessee, where we’d stay overnight with family friends for a visit and to break up the trip. We’d leave home early in the morning and by lunch time we’d be in and around Cincinnati, Ohio. There, we’d always stop for a bite to eat and one of my favourite lunches was chili spaghetti.  It was something I’ve not really seen anywhere else.

Fast forward 35 or so years, I’ve been noticing a number of online posts lately about something called Cincinnati Chili.  Intrigued and curious, I wondered if this regional food could be the dish I used to order as a kid.

Everyday ingredients for this dish. (Image: “SoS“)

Flipping through my newest cookbook by Ree Dummond, The Pioneer Woman Cooks COME and GET IT!, I came across, you guessed it…her recipe for Cincinnati Chili on page 199.  I knew this was a sign that I had to give it a try!

Cincinnati Chili
2 TBSP vegetable oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
5 garlic cloves, minced
2 pounds ground beef
One 15-ounce tomato sauce
2 cups beef broth
2 TBSP white vinegar
3 TBSP tomato paste
3 TBSP chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground cumin
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon ground allspice
2 bay leaves
1 TBSP Worcestershire sauce
1 pound spaghetti, cooked, for serving
Finely grated sharp Cheddar cheese, for serving
Drained canned kidney beans (optional), for serving

In a Dutch oven over medium-high heat, sauté onion and garlic until soft and then add ground beef and fry until no longer pink and then drain.

Sauté onions, garlic and beef. (Image: “SoS“)

Add tomato sauce, broth and vinegar, stir, and then add the tomato paste. Next, add the chili powder, cumin and other spices, the bay leaves and the Worcestershire sauce. Reduce heat to low and simmer, for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.  Remove from heat.

Thick and flavourful sauce after hourlong simmer. (Image: “SoS“)

Cook spaghetti and transfer onto individual serving plates and ladle sauce over top. Add drained kidney beans and top with grated cheddar. Another option is adding some Oyster Crackers on top, too.

Cincinnati Chili plated and ready to eat. (Image: “SoS“)

In Review
It’s a more time-consuming meal but rather easy to make and most of the time is spent waiting for the sauce to simmer. That hour provides plenty of time to clean up and then relax with a cup of tea, which is precisely what I did. I cooked exactly as is; however, I chose to eliminate the kidney beans on top, since it was optional. The grated cheddar really added a nice flavour punch and gave it some visual appeal.

On the “Sugar Scale” [my unofficial recipe rating system], this recipe scored a 9 out of 10. It had a nice taste and was a great blend of pasta and chili. It was simple to make, my family liked it and I’ll definitely make again. It also brought back memories of days gone by as a kid passing through Cincinnati.

Learn more about Cincinnati Chili in this North Kentucky Tribune article or on Wikipedia.

The views expressed in this post are purely my own. See my disclosure policy for more information.

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