Friday, May 27, 2016

Cincinnati-Style Chili

I've always wondered how those chili-dog joints are able to get their chili mixture so thin-textured and smooth - no chunky pieces of ground meat are anywhere to be seen or tasted. The mystery has eluded me until recently when I watched an episode of Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives on Food Network where the owner of a diner had host Guy Fieri mash up by hand a mixture of raw ground beef in water and spices for a batch of their famous chili. That action gave the final cooked product the perfect consistency that a chili topping for hot dogs should have. Inspired, I adapted this version of Cincinnati-style chili from several recipes, tweaking it according to my own taste. Cincinnati chili is a regional specialty that is typically not eaten on its own, but rather served over spaghetti or as a hot dog topping. The original recipe came from Macedonian immigrants in the Cincinnati area in the 1920s, and is distinctive because of the seasonings (ground cinnamon is a must, but ground cloves, allspice, cumin, and paprika are a few other spices that are also often included). In this, my first go-around, I used the recipe as a hot dog topping. Next time I make this recipe, I will serve it over spaghetti and describe, in a future post, the 5 traditional "ways" that it can be ordered/served.

3 lbs. ground beef (I use 80% lean, 20% fat)
6 cups of water or enough to cover the ground beef in a pan
2 onions, finely chopped
2 15-oz. cans tomato sauce
2 tbsp. tomato paste
2 tbsp. chili sauce
3 tbsp. cider vinegar
3 tbsp. chili powder
2 tsp. kosher salt
2 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. ground coriander
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/4 tsp. ground allspice
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 bay leaves
1 tbsp. sugar
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce

1. Place ground beef in a large pan and cover with about 1 quart of cold water (enough to cover); mash the beef with your hands until fine. Bring the pot to almost a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer for about 30 minutes until the beef is cooked through. Let cool and skim off the fat.

2. Add the remaining ingredients to the pot of beef and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat and simmer (uncovered), stirring occasionally, about 2 1/2 hours. 

3. Serve over hot dogs, spaghetti, or whatever floats your boat. Leftovers can be frozen.

 Mash the ground beef in the water with your hands (gloved, if you're squeamish 
about touching meat).

 Simmer the ground beef in water for about 30 minutes. 

 Once the mixture has cooled, skim off as much fat as possible from the top (you can also let the mixture cool overnight in the frig so that the fat will congeal, making it much easier to remove the next day).

 Spice blend, minced garlic, chopped onion, fresh bay leaves, Worcestershire sauce & cider vinegar.

 Ground cumin, black pepper, tomatoes sauce, Worcestershire sauce, ground cinnamon, cider vinegar, allspice, cayenne pepper, ground cloves, chili powder.

Tomato paste & chili sauce.

 Simmer all the ingredients for about 2 1/2 hours.

Great served over hot dogs, in this case, with shredded iceberg lettuce, chopped onion, 
and sliced jalapeños.


  1. Did I tell you I made this? And it's so very good.