Cincinnati Chili

I first had Cincinnati chili at a Lupe’s in Charlotte, NC. It was (and I hope still is) one of those places that does one (or two in this case) things really well. Lupe’s did (does?) chili: either Tex-Mex or Cincinnati. So you have 3 choices: Tex-Mex, Cincinnati, or half and half. Fantastic! I realized later that Cincinnati chili is what I was a kid and had chili dogs at Gus’s  in Crestline Village.

  • 3             onions, chopped
  • 6             garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 Tbs olive oil
  • 4 pounds  ground beef (ground turkey can also be substituted)
  • 1/3 cup    chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons   sweet paprika
  • 2 tsp  powdered cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground allspice
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp ground mace
  • 1  bay leaf
  • 3 cups  water
  • 1 can (16 oz) tomato sauce
  • 2 tablespoons             30 mL             wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons             30 mL             molasses
  • salt to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper

In a large pot, sauté onions and garlic in oil over medium heat, stirring frequently, until onions are soft. Add beef and stir until lightly browned. Add spices (except the bay leaf) and continue to cook for another minute or two, still stirring. Add bay leaf, water, tomato sauce, vinegar, and molasses.

Simmer, uncovered, for two hours, stirring occasionally. Add more water if necessary, keeping the meat barely covered; chili should be thickened but still soupy enough to be ladled. Discard bay leaf and season with salt and pepper.

Like all chili, this is often even better if refrigerated overnight or frozen, then reheated. Cincinnati chili is usually served on hot dogs or over spaghetti, often accompanied by oyster crackers.

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