As prepared by Kristen Hampton on her Facebook Video and described on the Bro Show Podcast episode “S10 E08 – We Call it Chili”
Cincinnati, Ohio could easily be coined the Chili Capital of the USA with more than 180 chili parlors. Cincinnati Chili can trace its local origins back to 1922 when Macedonian immigrants Tom and John Kiradjieff opened a small Greek restaurant called the Empress. The restaurant did poorly with typical Greek fare. So the Kiradjieff’s offered a chili made with Middle Eastern spices served in a variety of ways and called it spaghetti chili.
Kiradjieff’s flexible concoction started with a mound of spaghetti topped with chili (2-way) followed by optional shredded yellow cheese (3-way) chopped onion (4-way) and kidney beans (5-way). Another menu item was a hot dog topped with chili and shredded cheese. Cincinnati chili is usually described as sweet. However, its various recipes do not include sugar as the sweetness is based on its spices.
In 1949, the Lambrinides brothers created their version of Cincinnati Chili called Skyline Chili which has become the most popular commercial version of this delicacy. Skyline has more than a 100 locations spread across the Midwest in Ohio, Indiana, and Kentucky. Their Chili can also be purchased frozen (preferred) or in cans from their website or at various grocery chains shown on the website. Skyline chili accessories, such as spice packets, can also be obtained from the website.
There are at least a dozen different chili parlors in Cincinnati. The next largest is Gold Star with over 80 locations. Even Empress still has several locations. You will find each parlor has their own chili niche of ingredients or menu items. Just like any popular food, each Cincinnati Chili creator adds their special touch. Below you will find Kristen Hampton’s version which I made and found very satisfying to my chili palate.
Cincinnati Chili Recipe
Note: Below Recipe yields 8-10 servings depending the amount of pasta and toppings.
2 lbs. lean ground beef (80/20)
4 cups of beef stock, chicken stock or water (enough to cover ground beef)
1 white onion, finely chopped
1 (15 ounce) can tomato sauce
1 small can tomato paste
2 tablespoons white vinegar
2 teaspoons worcestershire sauce
4 cloves garlic, minced
½ tablespoon cocoa powder
¼ cup chili powder
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
¼ teaspoon cloves
¼ teaspoon allspice
2 bay leaves
Breakup the ground beef with a fork into a fine texture. Place finely granulated beef in a large pot or pan, cover with the stock or water, and bring to a boil. Continue boiling until the meat is thoroughly cooked (about 30 minutes); lower heat to simmer and stir in the ingredients. Cook and stir for another 90 minutes. Refrigerate overnight.
The next day, skim the solid fat from the top of the pot or pan, and discard the fat. Simmer the mixture at low heat, stirring occasionally, for at least an hour. Add water as needed to prevent the chili from burning and to get the consistency desired.
Click here to hear the Bro Show episode where wonderful dish was featured.