It’s no secret that I adore hometown things… no matter where I live in this life, I will always be a Cincinnati Reds, Cincinnati Bengals, and University of Cincinnati fan. I will always prefer the auto-mechanic in the small town I grew up in, Graeter’s Ice Cream is the BEST, Montgomery Inn has the BEST ribs, Larosas Pizza is devine, and Skyline Chili is the only chili that will truly always have a place in my heart.
In case you couldn’t tell… I grew up in the suburbs of Cincinnati 🙂 For those of you who haven’t been here or don’t have a clue what I mean when I say Cincinnati-style chili… let me tell you, it is NOTHING like any chili you’ve had before. To most people, chili is a spicy meat stew with peppers, onions, sometimes beans, and something you serve with some cornbread alongside. For us Cincinnatians… chili is this…
A meat sauce full of unique seasonings that is served on top of spaghetti and topped with cheese (3-way… get your mind out of the gutter 😛 ), and sometimes onions and/or beans will be added with the cheese (4 or 5 way). Another classic way we enjoy this chili is on top of a hot dog, with some mustard and onions and a mound of cheese.
That delicious looking dog is called a coney. And they are heavenly… seriously.
Some of you are probably looking at your screen thinking, “woman, you are crazy. Chili doesn’t go on noodles or a hot dog!” I know, I know… the term chili is confusing, because this dish is completely different. But wonderful (as most Cincinnatians are as well 😉 ). I urge you to try it, at least once. Most people who try it, love it 🙂 If you don’t like it, then call me a crazy woman and go back to your usual chili 🙂
Around here, you can buy Skyline (and Gold Star) chili in cans, packets, and frozen trays. Which is convenient, but p-r-i-c-e-y! So I wanted to find a recipe that starts from scratch… for a few reasons. Number one… the price. I’m a cheap you know what and refuse to pay that much for one can of chili. Number 2… I don’t want the preservatives and whatever is in those packets. Number 3 (the most important reason)… unless you live here, you probably won’t be able to find those cans, trays or packets in your grocery store. Bummer huh? Everyone should be able to enjoy this fabulous chili, no matter where you live! My uncle grew up here in Cincy, but lives on the West Coast now, and sadly, they have no way to get the chili unless we send them a care package of Cincinnati goodies, or they come back to visit. Now I am allllllll for more visits 😀 but that’s pretty expensive. So my hope was to find a recipe that was a close to the real thing as possible, so they could enjoy this chili anytime they wanted 😀 This is the one!
It’s really simple to make too, just add water, tomato paste and chocolate to a large pot and cook over medium heat for a few minutes. That’s right, you read that correctly… chocolate. Not the milk chocolate we all love to snack on mind you, but unsweetened 100% cacao bakers chocolate.
Add your spices, vinegar, and your beef. Crumble it using your fingers, then use a potato masher, whisk, or mash the beef against the side of the pan. Basically you want the meat all broken up into fine pieces. I mainly used the fork and went to town with my whisk. Get mad at it, break up that meat! 🙂
Now just bring it to a boil, reduce heat to medium low and let it cook, uncovered for 1 – 1 1/2 hours (you want a low boil). It will thicken up and become a wonderful meat sauce. And the smell that fills your house…. incredible!!
It’s up to you how you would like to serve up your chili… do you want coneys? A “way”? Or just chili in a bowl with cheese and oyster crackers? It’s your house, your rules! I typically go for “ways” and coneys. Remember, here’s the breakdown:
2-way = spaghetti and chili
3-way = spaghetti, chili, cheese
4-way = spaghetti, chili, onions OR beans, cheese
5-way = spaghetti, chili, onion AND beans, cheese
The toppings that don’t count toward the “way” are oyster crackers and hot sauce. They’re great additions, I use them both 🙂 For your coneys, the traditional way is a hot dog with mustard, diced onion, chili and cheese… but you can omit either or both of the mustard and onions if you prefer. Psssst… this chili is also fantastic over crispy french fries or even a baked potato!!
So try this chili, please 🙂 Let me share this piece of my hometown with you all… I think you’ll LOVE it 🙂
Recipe adapted from Luv a Bargain
Cincinnati Style Chili
- 1 oz can of Tomato paste 6
- oz .5 baking chocolate
- 1/4 cup chili powder
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1/4 tsp allspice
- 1/4 tsp ground cloves
- 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes 1/8 for a less spicy chili
- 1/8 tsp black pepper
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp sugar
- 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 5 cups water
- 1 1/4 lb lean ground beef
Add the 5 cups of water in a large pot.
Add the tomato paste and chocolate and heat over medium heat stirring to combine for about 3 minutes. (I stirred with a whisk to really break up the tomato paste)
Add the spices.
Next, crumble the raw ground beef into the pot with your fingers, then use a potato masher, whisk or fork to break up the meat into very fine pieces.
Turn heat to high to bring to a boil.
Once boiling, turn the heat down to med-low.
Cook, uncovered, for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, at a low boil.. stirring occasionally until sauce has thickened quite a bit.
Serve over thin spaghetti or a hot dog.
Recipe NotesOptional toppings include shredded cheddar cheese, diced white or yellow onion, kidney beans, oyster crackers and hot sauce.