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Cincinnati-Style Chili



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"Wish I had time for just one more bowl of chili."
~ the dying words of Kit Carson

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The recipe originally published on this page is still available below, just in
case you're looking for it. Just scroll down a time or two. However, due to
a request from a loyal LBC supporter, we're adding a recipe he endorses
as much more authentic. We hope you agree. If not, just let us know and
the two of you can discuss it, I've decided to stay out of it. Obviously, I
don't know from Cincinnati-Style Chili! I must admit though that I trusted
Gourmet Magazine to be a reliable source...

This just in!
"You got to remember, Cincy chili is not intended to be Chile Con Carne. It was originally invented by two Macedonian brothers (Empress Chili) to top hot
dogs at their hot dog stand (early 1900's). A Greek man that worked for them
broke off... a few years later and started Skyline Chili that is considered the
standard of Cincy chili. All the different chili houses have their own recipe, but
they have one common theme - the chili is actually more consistent with a very
meaty Mediterranean pasta sauce, or Picadillo.
Both these recipes are pretty authentic, if you can use that term for a chili
recipe. One of problems with the Frugal Gourmet recipe is that he puts the
beans in the chili. That is a no-no. Adding the beans on top is what makes
it 5-way. [I quite agree! Been wondering about that!] The second recipe
(Gourmet) is more like I make it (the meat and the spicing), except I put
chocolate in it, which is one of the things that makes Cincy chili what it is."
~ Loyal LBC Supporter, fine cook and raconteur

So there you have it -- everything you wanted to know about Cincinnati
Chili but were afraid to ask...


Cincinnati Chili [Authentic!]
The Frugal Gourmet Cooks American

by Jeff Smith, © 1987 Frugal Gourmet, Inc.
Published by William Morrow


Serves a small neighborhood if you use the pasta and condiments.
For your family it will serves 8 – 10 persons.  

"This is certainly an interesting dish, though a bit unusual. The
story goes that a young chef from Macedonia arrived in Cincinnati
and opened a chili stand. He Added Additional spices, as per his back-
ground, and Cincinnati chili was born. Note that this recipe calls for
some sweet spices such as cinnamon and allspice, and cocoa. Some
recipes also call for nutmeg.
The method of serving is a bit unusual, too. The chili is normally not
made with beans. So when you order Cincinnati chili you get a bowl
of meat and spices. When you order it ‘two way,’ the sauce comes on
a pile of spaghetti. When you order it ‘three way,’ you get spaghetti
topped with chili and grated Cheddar cheese. A ‘four way’ adds chopped
yellow onions, and a ‘five way’ adds the fifth ingredient, beans. You
can have great fun with this and I expect that your children will think
up some additional ‘ways’ of serving this delicious dish.”

2 tablespoons peanut oil
1 pound lean pork, coarsely ground
1 pound hamburger
4 yellow onions, peeled and chopped
6 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1 tablespoon whole cumin seeds
4 tablespoons hot chili powder (commercial)
3 whole bay leaves
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons allspice
2 teaspoons Tabasco
4 tablespoons [unsweetened] cocoa powder
2 tablespoons Worcestershire
4 tablespoons white vinegar
1 can (28 ounces) tomatoes, puréed
1 tablespoon oregano
2 pounds kidney beans, soaked
and cooked *
Salt to taste

Heat a 12-quart heavy stockpot and add the oil. Sauté the pork, ham-
burger, onions, garlic, cumin seeds, chili powder, and bay leaves until
the meat is barely browned and the onions clear. Drain the fat and discard.
Add the remaining ingredients, including the beans, and bring to a simmer. Cook, covered, for 1 1/2 hours or until the beans are tender. You may
need to add water [or stock] to this dish as it cooks.
Now, you must decide is you are to have it one, two, three, four, or five way, You might even think up a sixth way!

* On preparing cooked beans for chili with beans
Chili with beans has a much better flavor if you use dried beans and cook them yourself rather than using canned beans. Simply soak the needed amount of red kidney or other [such as pinto] beans in ample water over- night. Then simmer until tender overnight. [Do not add salt until after the beans are cooked, or the skins will be tough,] The beans are then drained and added to the chili. Cook the beans in the chili sauce and simmer for 1
to 1 1/2 more hours.


Cincinnati-Style Chili
Gourmet December 1992

3 onions, chopped
6 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
4 pounds ground beef chuck
1/3 cup chili powder
2 tablespoons sweet paprika
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon dried orégano, crumbled
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground mace
1 bay leaf
3 cups water
A 16-ounce can tomato sauce
2 tablespoons wine vinegar
2 tablespoons molasses
Spaghetti, kidney beans, chopped onion,
grated Cheddar, and oyster crackers as
traditional accompaniments if desired

In a large heavy kettle cook the onions and the garlic in the oil over
moderate heat, stirring, until the onions are softened, add the beef,
and cook the mixture, stirring and breaking up the lumps, until beef
is no longer pink. Add the chili powder, paprika, cumin, coriander
[cilantro], allspice, oregano, cayenne, cinnamon, cloves, and mace
and cook the mixture, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the bay leaf, water,
tomato sauce, vinegar, and molasses. Simmer the mixture, uncovered, stirring occasionally and adding more water if necessary to keep the
beef barely covered, for 2 hours, or until it is thickened but soupy
enough to be ladled. Discard the bay leaf and season the chili with
salt and pepper. The chili may be frozen or made 4 days in advance,
cooled, uncovered, and kept covered and chilled.
Serve the chili as is or in the traditional Cincinnati "five-way" style:
Ladle the chili over the spaghetti and top it with the beans, onion,
Cheddar, and oyster crackers. Makes about 8 cups, serving 6.

We’ve been told that in Cincinnati the true enthusiasts
have their Chili 1 to 5 ways:

1. Plain
2."Two Way" - Spaghetti & Chili
3."Three Way" - Chili, Spaghetti,
and Cheddar Cheese
4."Four Way" - Chili, Spaghetti,
Cheddar Cheese, and Onions
5."Five Way" - Chili, Spaghetti, Cheddar
Cheese, Onions and Kidney Beans

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