Things can get a little heated when chili is discussed. Families have gone to war over the contents of chili, factions set along the beans-no-beans line. Holidays and football games have been ruined over many a bowl brawl.
At least, that’s what I’ve heard since I’ve been living in Texas. Growing up I didn’t know that chili could even come without beans — a deception of the highest order to my childhood palate — or be made with anything but ground beef. Once I learned how to cook and looked at other varieties, it was a crazy, meaty world opened up to me.
One variety our whole family really enjoys is Cincinnati Chili. While it might not be what your family considers “true” chili, this is a big bowl of comfort, and it’s perfect for families who have a variety of taste buds at the table. My son prefers the cinnamon flavor over the spice of Texas chili, and serving anything with pasta is always a win for this house.
Cincinnati Chili is usually prefaced by how many ways it’s served: 3-way, 4-way, et cetera. 5-way is going all in, with spaghetti, chili, beans, diced raw onion, and cheese. The beans are often served on the side to make them optional, but you can always add the beans during cooking if you know everyone is going to eat them (or you like forcing them on your children).
This is a great recipe for busy days because it can just be tossed in the slow cooker, and then at the end of the day the pasta can cook while you get the table set and shred the cheese. It’s warm, hearty, and just feels like home — no matter where you live.
5-Way Cincinnati Chili
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/2 teaspoon whole allspice
- 1/2 teaspoon whole cloves
- 2 pounds lean ground beef
- 2 cups chopped onions , divided
- 1 15- ounce can dark red kidney beans , rinsed and drained
- 1 15- ounce can tomato sauce
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 3 tablespoons chili powder
- 4 cloves garlic , minced
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
- 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/2 ounce unsweetened chocolate , chopped
- 12 ounces dried spaghetti , cooked and drained
- 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese , 4 ounces
- Place bay leaf, allspice, and cloves in the center of a cheesecloth square. Bring up corners of cheesecloth, tie closed with kitchen string, and set aside.
- In a large skillet (or using the saute function on your slow cooker) cook ground beef over medium heat until browned, using a wooden spoon to break up meat as it cooks. Drain off fat. Transfer meat to a 4-quart slow cooker. Stir 1 cup onions, tomato sauce, the water, chili powder, garlic, Worcestershire sauce, cumin, cinnamon, salt, and cayenne pepper into meat in cooker. Stir in spice bag.
- Cover and cook on low for 8 to 10 hours or on high for 4 to 5 hours, stirring in chocolate during the last 30 minutes of cooking. Warm kidney beans in a separate pot, or, if everyone wants beans, stir them into the chili with the chocolate.
- To serve, remove spice bag. Spoon chili over hot cooked spaghetti. Sprinkle each serving with chopped onions and cheese.
Adapted from Better Homes and Gardens
For more tasty inspiration, check out my Beef Recipes board on Pinterest!