Introduction: How to Make Cincinnati Style Chili (Skyline Chili)
This is a very different style of chili from the traditional southwest style chili, but personally I think it is waaay better. I know that there are chili purists out there, but seriously, give this stuff a try and you won't be disappointed. Traditionally, this chili is served with only kidney beans, and they are actually added on top and not cooked in the chili itself. I like to cook the beans in the chili to get that delicious spice flavor into the beans.I also add a variety of beans to give it a wider flavor profile. And yes, that is spaghetti under the chili. That's how they serve it at Skyline Chili (famous place that serves this style of chili) in Cincinnati. This is prepared slightly different that the chili you would get if you went to Skyline, but the flavors are very similar. Trust me...yummm!
Step 1: Ingredients
What you will need...This can be a bit pricey the first time only because spices are not cheap! Once you have everything though, you will have plenty of leftover spices for other batches!
-2 lbs lean ground beef
-4 beef boullion cubes
-4 cups water
-1/4 to 1/3 cup chili powder (to taste)
-1 tablespoon garlic powder (I tried this once with fresh garlic and it wasn't as good)
-1 teaspoon ground cumin
-1 to 1 1/2 teaspoon red pepper (depending on how spicy you like it. 1 teaspoon will make a milder chili, but it will still have a bit of kick)
-1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
-1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
-1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
-1 bay leaf
-1/2 square unsweetened baker's chocolate (yes, chocolate in chili...delicious)
-3 tablespoons white vinegar
-4 cans of beans, rinsed and drained ( I like to use 2 cans of dark red kidney beans, one can of black beans, and one can of white beans)
-1 15 oz. can tomato sauce (just use plain old tomato sauce from a can. Do not use prepared spaghetti sauce as it will affect the ratios of spices and flavors)
-1 large brown/yellow onion (I have seen these called both brown or yellow, just don't use white onion. Red onion is good too, but it gives the chili a different flavor.)
-1-2 tablespoons Vegetable Oil (for cooking the onion)
-One package Shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese (not in the picture...oops)
-one package of spaghetti or angel hair (optional, but if you want the authentic Cincinnati chili experience, this is how you do it. Either that or chili dogs)
Step 2: Non-food Supplies
A large pot to cook the chili
A skillet or frying pan for the onion and spices
A pot for the pasta (optional)
Step 3: Preparing the Stock
-First, add the 4 cups of water to the pot along with the four beef boullion cubes.
-Set the stove to medium and begin adding the beef. The best way to do this while maintaining consistency is to grab a small hanfull of beef, pull off small pieces and add them to the water/boullion.
-You don't want this to be boiling on high heat, or else the meat will cook too fast and become rubbery. Instead, let it simmer at a very low boil for at least 30 minutes. If you cover the pot, you will lose less water by evaporation.
-Cooking the meat by boiling as opposed to frying in a pan allows the meat to stay tender and juicy.
Step 4: Mixing the Spices
Combine all of the spices (Chili powder, Garlic powder, Cumin, Cinnamon, Cloves, Allspice, Red pepper) in a small bowl and mix together. This just makes it easier to add to the chili when needed. Also, the spices will be more evenly distributed, allowing them to mix into the sauce better.
Step 5: Prepare the Sauce
-Chop the onion fairly small or minced if you prefer (Traditionally, there is no actual chopped onion in the chili, but I like the texture that it adds. You can substitute onion powder if you like, but I prefer the chopped onion) and add about 1 1/2 to 2 cups to a heated frying pan that has about one or two tablespoons of vegetable oil. Save the rest of the chopped onion to put on top of the chili.
-Let the chopped onion cook until it is clear and just barely starting to brown,
-Add the can of tomato sauce to the cooked onion and mix well.
-Add the combined spices and the bay leaf to the tomato sauce/onion mixture and stir until evenly mixed.
Step 6: Put It All Together!
-At this point, pour the tomato sauce/onion/spices mixture into the pot with the beef stock (which has been simmering for at least 30 minutes) and mix it all together. Try to get as much out of the pan as possible. I add a little bit of hot water to the pan and stir up anything that is left in there to make sure I get all of the spice/sauce mixture out.
-After combinig the sauce and the stock, add the three tablespoons of White Vinegar and the 1/2 square of Unsweetened Baker's Chocolate to the mix.
-Add the drained and rinsed beans to the pot, and let simmer for at least 30 minutes to allow the flavors to cook together. This will be difficult, because you will want to eat it right away! It will still be really good if you eat it at this point, but if you wait it will be even better!
-This chili is not going to have a thick sacue like most traditional southwest chili, but if you let it cook longer it will thicken up a bit.
Step 7: Enjoy!
After simmering for a while, serve the chili over pasta with shredded cheddar cheese and some chopped raw onion. Some people prefer a mild cheddar (which is what they serve at Skyline) with this chili , but I personally like the sharp. Of course, you do not need to have cheese or onions if you don't want to. You can even omit the beans from the cooking process and just add them on top if you'd prefer a more authentic Skyline style chili. You could also just put it into a bowl by itself and forgo the pasta which is also delicious. Chili dogs are also amazing with Cincinnati chili. However you eat it, I hope you enjoy this recipe, and share it with your family and friends.