Baseball Toaster Bronx Banter
Cincinnati Chili
2008-06-22 07:05
by Alex Belth
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to

If you can't beat ' 'em.

I've never tried Cincinnati Chili, a truly weird n wunnerful sounding-dish, but my cousin Jonah and his wife Jenn absolutely love it.  Here is an introduction from Jenn, followed by a fool-proof recipe from the good people at Cook's Illustrated (aka America's Test Kitchen):

"My husband and I first learned about this chili recipe while babysitting our nephew Archer one Sat morning.  We had just discovered America's Test Kitchen tv show and when they were demonstrating this recipe it literally stopped us in our tracks.  We sat enthralled at why someone would ever want to blanch ground chuck.  And then when we saw them mixing all those spices, we started salivating.  By the time they got to the buttered spaghetti, it was over: our jaws were on the floor, tongues agog a la Wyle E. Coyote.  America's Test Kitchen = super geniuses.  At that point we both turned to each other and, without a word, we both knew what was for dinner that night.

The great thing about this recipe is that it's super easy to throw together and it's got enough interesting flavors to whet anyone's palette. Since we made it the first time, we've been making it pretty much once a week.

I suppose you could sub ground chicken / turkey for the beef but what makes this dish delicious is the fat and I'm not sure chick or turk have enough of it (but I could be wrong).  The spices - in particular the cocoa - are what make it pop and give it a rich, beautiful color.

You must do all the required toppings for the big finale: the sharp tang of the cheddar, the sweet bite of the raw diced onion, and the mellow smoothness of the warmed red kidneys all add a nice dimension to the beefy, spiced chili.

While some people prefer to avoid having leftovers, for this dish it's actually fine. It still tastes excellent the second time around (you can do both stove-top sauce pan method or the cover with foil in the oven method, though with the oven method the noodles do get a little crispy, if you're into that)."



Cincinnati Chili



Choose a relatively plain tomato sauce-nothing too spicy or herbaceous. To warm the kidney beans, simmer them in water to cover for several minutes and then drain.


Serves 6 to 8




2 teaspoons table salt or more to taste

1 1/2 pounds ground beef chuck

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 medium onions , chopped fine (about 2 cups)

2 medium cloves garlic , minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 2 teaspoons)

2 tablespoons chili powder

2 teaspoons dried oregano

2 teaspoons cocoa

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

2 cups low-sodium chicken broth

2 cups water

2 tablespoons cider vinegar

2 teaspoons dark brown sugar

2 cups tomato sauce

hot pepper sauce




1 pound spaghetti , cooked, drained, and tossed with 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter


12 ounces sharp cheddar cheese , shredded


1 can red kidney beans (15-ounce), drained, rinsed, and warmed


1 medium white onion , chopped fine (about 1 cup)



1. FOR THE CHILI: Bring 2 quarts of water and 1 teaspoon of the salt to a boil in a large saucepan. Add the ground chuck, stirring vigorously to separate the meat into individual strands. As soon as the foam from the meat rises to the top (this takes about 30 seconds) and before the water returns to a boil, drain the meat into a strainer and set it aside.


2. Rinse and dry the empty saucepan. Set the pan over medium heat and add the oil. When the oil is warm, add the onions and cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are soft and browned around the edges, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in the chili powder, oregano, cocoa, cinnamon, cayenne, allspice, black pepper, and the remaining 1 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring constantly, until the spices are fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the broth, water, vinegar, sugar, and tomato sauce, scraping the pan bottom to remove any browned bits.


3. Add the blanched ground beef and increase the heat to high. As soon as the liquid boils, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the chili is deep red and has thickened slightly, about 1 hour. Adjust the seasonings, adding salt and hot pepper sauce to taste. (The chili can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days. Bring to a simmer over medium-low heat before serving.)


4. TO SERVE: Divide the buttered spaghetti among individual bowls. Spoon the chili over the spaghetti and top with the cheese, beans, and onion. Serve immediately.

2008-06-22 08:19:21
1.   mehmattski
Cincinati chili is pretty good, but I prefer it to be much spicier.

A fun thing to in a group of people... if someone reveals they've been to Cincy, ask them: "Did you have a three-way?" Everyone else will look at you like you're nuts, and hopefully the Cincy traveler will get it....

A three-way, of course, refers to having noodles topped with chili topped with cheese. It's pretty decadent, even without the risque name.

2008-06-22 09:00:47
2.   dianagramr
About 25 years ago, my mom and I visited relatives in Cincinnati. I was taken to the (in my younger eyes' view) a real treat .... Skyline Chili.

I liked it so much, I made them take me back a 2nd and 3rd time that visit, even though I was informed that Skyline was really kind of Cincy's version of Mickey D's.

2008-06-22 09:03:45
3.   mehmattski


2008-06-22 10:59:12
4.   dianagramr

Well, THAT kinda killed my appetite for Skyline. :-)

2008-06-22 11:11:33
5.   cult of basebaal
i suppose cincinnati style chili is okay, but the problem is that most 'natians don't hand make the chili, they use skyline from the can

and skyline chili is a war crime against humanity's tastebuds

vile and pernicious

2008-06-22 11:48:43
6.   3rd gen yankee fan

Cmon we all have our guilty pleasures.

2008-06-22 13:49:41
7.   3rd gen yankee fan
0 Cincinnati chili REQUIRES oyster crackers to be served on the side.
2008-06-22 17:17:48
8.   randym77
Cincinnati chili is oddly sweet and thin compared to Texas chili. The midwest in general likes thin, sweet chili, often served over hot dogs and called Coney Island sauce (or just Coney sauce). Not sure how that started. Most New Yorkers look at you like you have two heads if you ask for Coney sauce.

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