Cincinnati chili is a unique and beloved regional cuisine with a long and fascinating history. Originating in Cincinnati, Ohio, this spicy and flavorful meat sauce is served over spaghetti or hot dogs and can be topped with various ingredients, including cheese, onions, and beans.
Whether you’re a native of Cincinnati or just discovering this delicious dish for the first time, this beginner’s guide will provide all the information you need to get started.
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History of Cincinnati Chili
Cincinnati chili has its roots in the city’s diverse immigrant communities. In the early 1900s, Greek immigrants began opening chili parlors and serving their version of the spicy meat sauce. This style of chili, known as “Cincinnati-style chili,” is characterized by the use of unique spices such as cinnamon, chocolate, and allspice, which give it a distinctive flavor that sets it apart from other types of chili. See also: 10 Simple Gluten-Free Recipes That Will Change Your Life.
Over the years, Cincinnati chili has become a staple of the local cuisine and can be found at many restaurants and diners throughout the city. It’s also become a famous export, with Cincinnati-style chili parlors popping up in other parts of the country.
Types of Cincinnati Chili
There are several different styles of Cincinnati chili, each with its distinct flavor and characteristics. Here are a few of the most popular varieties:
- Skyline Chili: This is the most well-known Cincinnati chili chain, with locations throughout the city and beyond. Skyline chili is known for its thin, watery consistency and use of spices such as cinnamon and chocolate. It’s typically served over spaghetti or hot dogs and can be topped with cheese, onions, and other ingredients.
- Gold Star Chili: This is another popular Cincinnati chili chain known for its thicker, heartier sauce. Gold Star chili is made with a blend of ground beef and delicate spices and is often served over spaghetti or hot dogs.
- Dixie Chili: This small chain of chili parlors is known for its spicy, meaty sauce and Greek-influenced toppings such as gyro meat and feta cheese.
- Empress Chili: This locally-owned chain is known for its thick, hearty chili made with a blend of ground beef, onions, and spices. Empress chili is typically served over spaghetti or hot dogs and can be topped with cheese, onions, and other ingredients.
Making Cincinnati Chili at Home
If you want to try your hand at making Cincinnati chili at home, here’s a simple recipe to get you started:
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1 small onion, diced
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon allspice
- 1/4 teaspoon cocoa powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 cup beef broth
- 1 can (14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes
- 1 can (15 ounces) of kidney beans, drained and rinsed
- In a large pot or Dutch oven, brown the ground beef over medium heat until it’s fully cooked.
- Add the diced onion and minced garlic to the pot, and cook for 2-3 minutes until the onions are softened.
- Stir in the cumin, paprika, chili powder, cinnamon, allspice, cocoa powder, salt, and pepper.
- Add the beef broth, diced tomatoes, and kidney beans to the pot, and bring the mixture to a boil.
- Reduce the heat to a simmer, and let the chili cook for about 20-30 minutes, until the flavors have melded and the sauce has thickened.
- Serve the chili over spaghetti or hot dogs, and top with cheese, onions, and other desired toppings.
Serving and Enjoying Cincinnati Chili
Cincinnati chili is typically served over spaghetti or hot dogs and is often topped with cheese and onions. Some people also like to add other toppings, such as beans, sour cream, and diced tomatoes.
When it comes to enjoying Cincinnati chili, there are a few different “ways” that you can order it. These refer to the specific combination of toppings and ingredients that you choose.
Here are a few popular ways to order Cincinnati chili:
- Two-Way: Chili served over spaghetti
- Three-Way: Chili served over spaghetti and topped with cheese
- Four-Way: Chili served over spaghetti and topped with cheese and onions
- Five-Way: Chili served over spaghetti and topped with cheese, onions, and beans
If you’re feeling adventurous, you can also order Cincinnatichilii over hot dogs or as a topping for fries or nachos.
Cincinnati chili is a delicious and unique regional cuisine with a rich history and a devoted following. Whether you’re a native of Cincinnati or just discovering this tasty dish for the first time, we hope this beginner’s guide has provided you with all the information you need to get started. So why not see what all the fuss is?