This is a very easy chili recipe that has been a mainstay in our family since the mid-1970’s! My Dad grew up in Cincinnati, so when we saw this in a Minnesota newspaper, we had to try it! The original clipped recipe has been so used and so loved, that it now resembles a fragment of the Dead Sea Scrolls. A great meal during the winter months!
Here are all the ingredients you will need:
2 lbs ground beef (85% lean is recommended for the best flavor!)
2 medium onions (chopped)
1 quart water
1 can plain chopped tomatoes (16 oz. Nowadays, the standard has been reduced to 14.5 oz. And they thought no one was keeping track!)
1 can kidney beans (16 oz. Optional – it is understood wars have been fought about including kidney beans in chili. Everybody calm down!)
1 1/2 tsp. vinegar
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp. chili powder (Yes, 1 tablespoon! This chili is spicy!)
2 tsp. ground cumin
1 1/2 tsp. ground allspice
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cayenne powder
1 tsp. ground cinnamon (The “secret” ingredient that really makes this delicious.)
1/2 tsp. garlic powder (Remember, this was the 1970’s! Fresh garlic? Unthinkable!)
2 bay leaves
Toppers & Options
Enough hot, cooked spaghetti for 6 servings.
Approximately 1 1/2 cups of shredded cheddar cheese.
Oyster crackers (You’ll want sturdy ones, I recommend Trader Joe’s Soup & Oyster Crackers.)
Approximately 1 cup chopped onion.
First of all, make yourself a nice cup of coffee. Remember that making this recipe a few days ahead will only improve the flavor. Leftovers will be delicious! Use a large saucepan, and add the ground beef, onions and water. Simmer until the beef turns brown. (I am a bit more fussy, and like to brown the beef alone, remove it from the pot, caramelize the onions, and then return the browned beef to the pot, and then add the water. I believe these extra steps add additional flavor. Or not. It’s up to you!)
Add the canned chopped tomatoes with their liquid, vinegar, worcestershire sauce, chili powder, cumin, allspice, salt, cayenne, cinnamon, garlic powder and bay leaves. Cover securely, and simmer for 3 hours. I like to add the kidney beans in the last hour, but you can make an executive decision on that. You can omit them completely or use them as a topping.
Serve Cincinnati Chili in large soup bowls. For “three-way” chili, serve a portion of chili on spaghetti and top with shredded cheese and oyster crackers. For “four-way” chili, you additionally top with chopped onion. For “five-way” chili, you additionally top with the heated kidney beans. As you can tell from the photo, I immediately put the “pedal-to-the-metal” and go for the five-way. Life is short.
Please note: This chili is meant to be more “beefy” than tomato based. But if you want to add a 2nd can of chopped tomatoes, it will be just fine! This chili is also meant to be a bit “soupy” — there will be delicious broth in the bottom of your bowl. This is the purpose of the sturdy oyster crackers – they help sop up this wonderful soup! Once refrigerated, you will see some beef fat harden on the top of the chili. As delicious as this may be when heated, you may wish to remove some of it. This is easily done with a large serving spoon. Gently lift off the fat in pieces and discard.