Not Your Usual Chili
This Cincinnati chili is about as different from the regular variety as you can get.
I admit to not being a lover of regular chili. However, this chili has fascinated me ever since I saw it on an old Anthony Bourdain show years ago.
Since I didn’t get around to making it back then, I had forgotten about it until I saw a recipe in the food section of the New York Times.
Since I’m not from Cincinnati and never visited that city, I’m not sure if this is genuinely authentic.
I adapted the recipe from the NYT food section and from what I could garner from the comments, this recipe was pretty much authentic. The only thing that people who were Cincinnati natives called out was the type of bean that was used.
The recipe called for kidney beans, but the “buckeye state” folks said the real deal is small red beans. I looked for them but couldn’t find them in my store. I didn’t want to use kidney beans, so I just left them out.
The other minor topics of debate in the comments were about the cheese and the onions. About the cheese, the recipe called for shredded sharp cheddar. The Ohioans said that it’s usually mild or medium cheddar used. They thought sharp cheese would be a too dominant flavor. As for the onions, this recipe uses sauteed onions cooked into the chili and diced raw white onion for a topping. Again, some natives said that onion isn’t cooked in the chili and the only onion is the raw in the topping.
Additional feedback from Ohioans is most welcome especially how you make this chili.
Even though this meal is actually mid-western in origin, it has very exotic flavors
To me it tastes like something that comes from Morocco. The cinnamon, allspice and cloves are what makes me think of that.
In fact, this spice blend becomes something more than it’s components. For instance I really don’t like the taste of cumin on it’s own, but it blends so well with the other spices that it doesn’t stand out in the taste.
All I can say is even though I don’t like regular chili at all, I really liked this and found it had great flavor!
- 4 cups beef broth
- 2 lbs ground beef
- 1 tbs olive oil
- ¾ cup finely chopped onions
- 1 tbs finely minced garlic
- ¼ cup chili powder or more to taste
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- ¼ tsp ground allspice
- ¼ tsp ground cloves
- 1 bay leaf
- ½ tsp hot red pepper or more to taste
- 2 cups fresh or canned tomato sauce
- 2 tbs apple cider or white vinegar
- 1 oz (1 square) unsweetened chocolate
- Salt, to taste
- 16 oz spaghetti, cooked
- 8 ounces sharp cheddar, finely grated
- 1 small white onion, finely diced
- Put the broth in a pot or Dutch oven and add the beef a little at a time until it separates into small pieces. Bring to the boil. Cover and let simmer 30 minutes.
- Heat the oil in a saucepan and add the onions. Cook, stirring often, until the onions are wilted and start to brown. Add the garlic, chili powder, cumin, cinnamon, allspice, cloves, hot red pepper, bay leaf and tomato sauce and bring to the boil.
- Pour in the tomato mixture to the meat mixture. Add the apple cider or white vinegar and chocolate. Bring to a boil and cover. Simmer one hour. Refrigerate. When ready to serve, skim off the fat, reheat and serve over cooked spaghetti topped with cheese and onion.
*Adapted from NYTYum