Classic Cincinnati Chili

Classic Cincinnati Chili

Serves 6 to 8. Published February 1, 2005.

Choose a relatively plain tomato sauce-nothing too spicy or herbaceous.
To warm the kidney beans, simmer them in water to cover for several minutes and then drain.



2 teaspoons table salt or more to taste
1 1/2 pounds ground beef chuck
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 medium onions , chopped fine (about 2 cups)
2 medium cloves garlic , minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 2 teaspoons)
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons cocoa
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 cups water
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 teaspoons dark brown sugar
2 cups tomato sauce
hot pepper sauce


1 pound spaghetti , cooked, drained, and tossed with 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter
12 ounces sharp cheddar cheese , shredded
1 can red kidney beans (15-ounce), drained, rinsed, and warmed
1 medium white onion , chopped fine (about 1 cup)


  1. FOR THE CHILI: Bring 2 quarts of water and 1 teaspoon of the salt to
  a boil in a large saucepan. Add the ground chuck, stirring vigorously
  to separate the meat into individual strands. As soon as the foam from
  the meat rises to the top (this takes about 30 seconds) and before the
  water returns to a boil, drain the meat into a strainer and set it

  2. Rinse and dry the empty saucepan. Set the pan over medium heat and
  add the oil. When the oil is warm, add the onions and cook, stirring
  frequently, until the onions are soft and browned around the edges, about
  8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir
  in the chili powder, oregano, cocoa, cinnamon, cayenne, allspice, black
  pepper, and the remaining 1 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring constantly,
  until the spices are fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the broth,
  water, vinegar, sugar, and tomato sauce, scraping the pan bottom to remove
  any browned bits.

  3. Add the blanched ground beef and increase the heat to high. As soon as the liquid boils, 

reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the chili is deep
red and has thickened slightly, about 1 hour. Adjust the seasonings, adding salt and hot
pepper sauce to taste. (The chili can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3
days. Bring to a simmer over medium-low heat before serving.)

  4. TO SERVE: Divide the buttered spaghetti among individual bowls.
  Spoon the chili over the spaghetti and top with the cheese, beans, and
  onion. Serve immediately.