Ground Beef, tomatoes, and beans are simmered together with a unique blend of spices to create the iconic Cincinnati Style Chili. It is delicious when served in a bowl, over spaghetti, or hotdogs. The coneys are the best!
Cincinnati Chili Recipe
You guys! We finally got our first snow this year! That calls for some celebration around the house. I always get so excited when snow appears. I am of the opinion that if it is going to snow, then it needs to snow me in. Enough snow to make a snowman that isn’t half dirt and dead grass. Enough snow that going to work is cancelled, not just an extra treacherous annoyance. Enough snow that it’s worthy of the grocery store not having my favorite bread. Enough snow that calls for sitting by the fireplace and a piping hot bowl of stew or chili after sledding.
With superbowl this week and snow on the ground, it could not be a more justifiable time to serve chili. But this chili is special. We all have special dishes we delighted in as if they were some special delicacy from a foreign land. Although I spent much of my childhood in Nashville, I have roots in Cincinnati and New Orleans. For me, Cincinnati Style Chili is the only chili. Of course, there were no Skyline restaurants for hours near Nashville, so we did the best we could using the powdered seasoning packets from Kroger. Here in Virginia, we don’t even have the luxury of having a Kroger’s. So years ago, my mother and I set about figuring out the secret Skyline Chili recipe. With the help of some internet sleuths and an article from the Cincinnati Inquirer, we put together a version that had all of the darkly smokey flavor of the authentic version.
I will say that my own preferences run a tad bit different from the traditional Skyline version. First, their chili is often almost a meat sauce consistency and the meat is crumbled very small. I usually make mine chunkier, similar to other types of chili like Texas style chili. Secondly, I cannot eat my chili without dark red kidney beans. There is just something about those beans that adds additional flavor to the chili that I cannot live without. I dump the whole can while cooking, juice and all. Tastes amazing.
How to East Cincinnati Style Chili
I am always delighted to serve up Cincinnati Style Chili at work chili contests (I have even won a few!). I always tell people who haven’t had the pleasure of this chili before, that they need to throw out their preconceived notions of what chili tastes like. I find that when people expect one thing and don’t get it, it can ruin the experience of something new. Cincinnati chili is like traditional chili’s lost cousin. There is some resemblance to call it in the same family, but far enough apart to note the striking difference. Although I am very partial to the coney, there are many unique ways to serve Cincinnati that are as much a part of it’s identity as it’s unique flavor profile.
Option 1 – In a bowl. Add oyster crackers, shredded cheddar cheese, and onions or additional dark red kidney beans.
Option 2 – Coneys – Serve a warm hot dog in a bun smothered with chili. Top with shredded cheddar cheese, onions, and/or dark red kidney beans if desired.
Option 3 – Traditional Spaghetti with Cincinnati Chili – Serve chili over spaghetti noodles and top with shredded cheddar cheese, onions, and/or dark red kidney beans if desired.
Option 4 – A burrito – Rolled soft tortilla filled with chili, tomatoes, lettuce, shredded cheddar cheese and sour cream
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- 2 lbs Ground Beef
- 2 cups Water Add less or more depending on how watery the tomatoes are
- 4 cups crushed tomatoes 2 cans
- 1 medium yellow onion diced
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1/4 cup chili powder
- 1.5 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa
- 1/2 tsp ground cayenne pepper
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1/4 tsp ground cloves
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp Salt
- 1 can dark kidney beans
- Cheddar Cheese shredded
- spaghetti cooked
- oyster Crackers
- yellow onions diced
In a large pot over medium heat, brown the ground beef. Cut into small pieces as you cook. Drain. Add water and bring to a simmer. Add the rest of the ingredients. Simmer on low, uncovered, for 2-2.5 hours. Add water if the chili becomes too thick.
Can also be made in the slow cooker if you brown the meat first. The long cooking time helps the chili to develop the flavors. If you refrigerate it, remove the layer of orange fat before reheating. My favorite tip is to add 1 can of dark red kidney beans about 30 minutes before the chili is done. I dump the whole can, juice liquor and all.
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