Saturday, June 21, 2008

Homegrown Gourmet #9: PASTA! Cincinnati Style Chili - Chili Spaghetti

I was in college the first time I had Cincinnati style chili at Skyline. Being from northwest Ohio, never having heard of chili on spaghetti (ew!), I really didn't think it was that great and didn't eat it again until I met Aaron, years later. He grew up in Cincinnati and we now have our own home a little North of Cinci. It's his favorite meal and now he has me hooked. We could seriously eat this stuff everyday. Up until now, we've either gotten it from a can at the grocery store, or gone to a restaurant to get this tasty meal. When I read about the Homegrown Gourmet challenge (a challenge in which you make a recipe that fits with the host's theme that in some way represents your area) and saw that this month's challenge was pasta, I knew this was the perfect time to try Cincinnati Chili. Check out the rules for the Homegrown Gourmet Challenge.

So, for a quick little history about Chili Spaghetti...It's a Greek dish that was brought over in the early 1920's by Tom and John Kiradjieff. The recipe began as a modified version of a Macedonian stew and was served over hot dogs or spaghetti noodles. From there, the recipe was modified and copied and Cincinnati Chili started popping up all over the area. The most popular chains for Cincinnati Chili are Skyline and Gold Star. (Skyline's the best!) You can read a more detailed history of the dish at

Ok, now you're wondering what makes Cincinnati Chili different than your normal texas-style chili? Chili on spaghetti - it really doesn't SOUND good, but the flavor and consistency is totally different and it's delicious on top of noodles or hot dogs. It's made from ground beef and lots of spices. It's very thin and the beef is very finely ground. You can have Chili Spaghetti a few different "ways":

One-way: Chili only (I don't think anyone does this)
Two-Way: Spaghetti noodles topped with chili.
Three-Way: Spaghetti noodles, chili, finely shredded cheddar cheese (I have yet to find the perfect cheese, nobody can beat Skyline)
Four-Way: Spaghetti, chili, cheese, and red kidney beans OR finely chopped white onions
Five-Way: Spaghetti, chili, cheese, beans AND onion.

Chili spaghetti is always served with oyster crackers. I researched a few recipes and there is some controversy over the actual spices used, so I just picked one and went for it. The recipe I used said this is a Skyline Original. So here goes...


3 lbs. lean hamburger, don't brown, chop up)
2 qts. water
2 lg. onions, chopped
2 (16 oz.) kidney beans (I omitted, we never eat ours with beans)
29 oz. can tomato sauce
1/2 tsp. allspice
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
4 tbsp. chili powder or more
2 tbsp. vinegar
2 tsp. cinnamon
2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/2 oz. unsweetened baking chocolate squares
1 1/2 tsp. salt
4 drops Tabasco sauce

In an 8 quart kettle combine hamburger, water and onions; simmer for 30 minutes. Then add remaining ingredients. Simmer for 2 or 3 hours, uncovered. Serve with steamed buns, hot dogs, onions and cheese or serve over spaghetti noodles, onions and cheese. Makes 6 pints.

I simmered the pot for 2 hours before Aaron couldn't wait for dinner any longer. And, to get the right consistency, I used my KA food processor and ground up the chili in small batches about 5 quick pulses each. Next time I will simmer the pot for closer to 3 hours instead of 2, just to get it a little thicker and let some of the liquid cook off. Overall, it passed the test and I have a few containers in my freezer for some more quick dinners. YUM :)


Kelly said...

This looks so great. I don't eat chili but this looks close enough to spaghetti for me...I'll definitely be trying this one.

crysbo said...

This looks so good, I'm headed to the store to buy the ingredients. Hubby is usually the one to make chili in our house but I love a good chili with no beans...now to decide on pasta or pizza! Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Chocolate - really?? Sounds too good to be true!

Angel Stover said...

I have made this many times ! My family prefers it to regular spaghetti!

Carol Lu said...

i use the store bought Mole to mine instead of the chocolate =)

Lyzard0 said...

I found this same recipe when I was trying to find authentic Cinci chili. I LOVE it!!! I make it without the beans also. It's the cinnamon and chocolate that really make this chili. I used up my frozen reserve--time to stock up. It's sooooo easy to make. I had never cooked my ground beef in water, I love how it breaks it down to small pieces. Reminds me of the texture of our local Taco Bell. I now cook my ground beef for mexican dishes in the water and taco seasoning. Back in the late 80's, a cafe in one of Portland, Oregon's government buildings used to serve chili dogs, and I swear this is the chili that they used. I always loved that chili and I'm so glad I have this recipe.

Kathy D. said...

I am making this for the second time tonight, we love it. I'm happy it makes so much so I can freeze some and pull it out on one of our crazy busy nights. Thanks!!

Anonymous said...

Do you think this could be made in a crock pot....maybe leave it on low all day?

Anonymous said...

I make it just like this to, but puree the beans into the mix. They help it thicken and you don't have to worry about the texture of them when you have picky eaters. Kraft makes a finely shredded cheddar cheese that comes "close" to Skyline's but not 100%. It works in a pinch. I know what I'm making for dinner tonight! :)

Anonymous said...

From a Cincinnati native girl, love my Skyline...thanks for recipe!

Anonymous said...

Making this AGAIN today, as our freezer supply has been depleted. Thank you for sharing such a fantastic recipe. LOVE it!

M!SS Natalie said...

Just fyi my Cincy family members say the Krogers up in that area sell packaged Skyline cheese!! Down here in Texas they don't but I've found shredding your own block of cheddar to be the next best thing!

Anonymous said...

Just wanted to say this is awesome! I'm from Ohio and am so happy to have found this recipe. I'll actually freeze small batches of this chili and whenever I'm ready for it, I'll just heat it up and it's ready for my spaghetti!

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