The season is begging for Chili or most definitely Chili Cheese Mac. Football, tailgaiting, easy afterschool dinners. As I was searching for a new twist on the usual old chili I stumbled upon Cincinnati Chili. I was completely unaware of the popularity and history of Cincinnati Chili. Not being from Ohio I had not heard the tales of this recipe being passed down. I grew up making chili without cheese or pasta. Just a simple dollop of sour cream on top and maybe a little shredded cheese garnish. I had no idea the decadence that was happening just one state over in Ohio.
I have found several recipes, some call for pre-cooking the pasta others called for adding the pasta dry to the chili at the same time that you add the beef stock thus cooking the pasta. I did it this way to try something new. I’m so glad I did. Pasta cooked with beef stock and chili is so much more rich and flavorful. Sadly the visual aspect of the chili isn’t quite as pretty with dark brown pasta but the taste made up for it.
The people of Cincinnati enjoy their chili spooned over freshly made pasta and topped with a combination of chopped onions, shredded Cheddar cheese, refried beans or kidney beans, and crushed oyster crackers. If you choose “the works,” you are eating what they call Five-Way Chili. Make sure to pile on the toppings – that’s what sets it apart from any other chili dish.
From what I have read Macedonian immigrant Tom Kiradjieff created Cincinnati Chili in 1922. With his brother, John, Kiradjieff he opened a small Greek restaurant called the Empress. The restaurant flourished after Kiradjieff started offering a chili made with Middle Eastern spices, which could be served in a variety of ways. He called it his “spaghetti chili.” Kiradjieff’s “five way” was a concoction of a mound of spaghetti topped with chili, chopped onion, kidney beans, and shredded yellow cheese, served with oyster crackers and a side order of hot dogs topped with more shredded cheese.
Wow, that is a plate full. I have combined recipes to create my own twist on Cincinnati Chili. I’m using elbow pasta instead of spaghetti and cooking it in the chili pot. I have stayed true to the original recipes spices, especially the cocoa/chocolate. This blend of seasonings made this chili outstanding. Stop at this point and smell the amazing magic happening in this pot.
Cincinnati Chili Cheese Mac
- 1 pint beef stock or broth
- 2 pounds lean ground beef
- 2 medium onions, finely-chopped
- 2 to 3 garlic cloves, minced (or to taste)
- 1 tablespoon chile powder
- 1 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 1/2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa or 1/2 ounce grated unsweetened chocolate
- 1/2 teaspoon salt and coarsely-ground black pepper to taste
- 1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce
- 1 (15-ounce) can OR fresh chopped tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
- 1 (16-ounce) package pasta, uncooked, dried
- 1 to 2 (16-ounce) cans Kidney Beans (or to your taste)
- 8 oz shredded cheddar cheese.
- Cheddar Cheese, shredded
- Onion, chopped
- 1 sliced jalapeño pepper
- In a large pot over medium-high heat, Crumble raw ground beef, breaking up the pieces of meat sauté until cooked through. Remove from pot. Set aside.
- To the same pot add onion, garlic, chile powder, allspice, cinnamon, cumin, cloves cayenne pepper, cocoa or chocolate, salt, pepper, tomato sauce, chopped tomatoes, Worcestershire sauce, and cider vinegar. (stop and smell the magic happening in this pan right now.)
- Reduce heat to low, add the beef back to the chili. Add the stock and let simmer, uncovered, approximately 1 hour as the sauce thickens. Add the uncooked pasta and the kidney beans. If the chili has reduced too far add 1 cup of additional stock to cook the pasta. When the pasta is cooked stir in 8 oz of shredded cheese. Serve garnished with more cheese, chopped onion and jalapeño pepper.
About the Author
Photographer Sally Roeckell specializes in contemporary lifestyle portraiture with an emphasis on food photography. Her Blog, Table and Dish is a website devoted to celebrating and curating the many ways that food binds us. Sally hopes that her recipes and images will inspire you to gather your friends and family in the kitchen to make memories, use the time to connect with busy kids, chat over mixing bowls, get messy, laugh, sing, set the table, clear the table, pass the salt, debate the days topics and pray. You can follow her here as a weekly contributor to 365Barrington and Heinen’s as well as via Table and Dish on Instagram and on her website at TableAndDish.com.
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