When we pulled Ohio, nothing came to mind as far as cuisine was concerned. After a little research I discovered that Ohio is known for one really common food item—Cincinnati style chili. There’s even a restaurant chain called the Skyline that specializes in this chili. From what I could tell, it seems to be a dietary staple in Ohio.
We’ve had chili before, in fact, my kids LOVE it; but we’ve only had Texas style chili. Texas chili (or chili con carne) is beef (I used ground beef) in a tomato based sauce with chili spices. We like our chili mixed with corn and elbow pasta. The kids and I are divided on beans vs. no beans so we usually alternate with the beans. Hubby hates beans of all kinds and refuses to eat the chili I make (hence why I usually make it when he’s working). The kids are also married to the elbow pasta that usually accompanies my chili and they made faces when I told them this chili is served with spaghetti. Ohio chili was going to be a hard sell.
However, I found out that this kind of chili can be two-way, three-way, four-way, or five-way chili. Get your mind out of the gutter…this is just referring to the toppings that people choose to put on their chili.
Two-way: Chili and spaghetti
Three-way: chili, spaghetti, cheddar cheese
Four-way: chili, spaghetti, cheese, raw onion or kidney beans (diehard fans apparently do not acknowledge the bean option of a four-way…onions are a true four-way…whatevs)
Five-way: chili, spaghetti, cheese, onion, and bean
Oyster crackers are another topping that are found on this chili, but they are optional. (Good, because I detest oyster crackers. I bought them anyway and my daughter ate the whole bag.)
Based on several Pinterest recipes, I did my best to recreate the Skyline Chili classic.
I started off by heating 1 TBSP oil in my Pampered Chef rock crock over medium-high heat. Then I added onions (from one finely chopped sweet onion) and cooked until they were tender. I added 1 clove of minced garlic, 2 TBSP chili powder (I used chipotle chili powder….shhhh don’t tell anyone), a sprinkle of dried oregano (I don’t measure oregano), 2 tsp of cinnamon (yes, cinnamon!), 1 tsp of allspice, and 1/2 tsp of ground cloves. I stirred about 30 seconds and then added 2 cups of chicken broth, 16 oz of tomato sauce, 2 TBSP of apple cider vinegar, 2 TBSP of tomato paste, 2 tsp of brown sugar, and 2 tsp of Worcestershire sauce. I sprinkled some salt and pepper, too.
It was smelling pretty awesome at this point. At least to me. The kids wandered in and scrunched up their faces asking “What is that awful smell?” Weirdos.
Anyway, the recipe instructed me to add the 2 lbs of ground beef at this point in time, so I scrolled back to the top, frantically searching for the point where I was supposed to brown this beef…did I miss that part? I reread the whole recipe…I couldn’t find it anywhere! Did that mean I was supposed to add this raw meat to the sauce?
I was really nervous about this. Usually I brown my beef and then add the sauce, but heck, this was a different style. If they said add the beef, I was adding the beef:
I brought the chili to a boil as instructed and then reduced it to a simmer for an additional 15 minutes. This was a quick recipe to whip up for a weeknight.
After it was cooked, I set out the toppings:
and called in the family for quick instructions on how to eat this chili. They mostly ignored me and made it any way they wanted.
That was mine, hubby’s, and my daughter’s. My son ate the chili and spaghetti separately so that doesn’t even count and was definitely not photo-worthy.
The reviews were mixed. I really loved it. It was a different take on a meal I love anyway. My daughter also liked it a lot, but my son was so annoyed by the spaghetti that he couldn’t get past it to enjoy the meal. Hubby was also not a big fan, but like I said, he’s not really a chili person to begin with. This one will have to go in the “meals to make when it’s just me & my daughter” category. I’ll have to cut the recipe in half the next time I make it. Even though I had this for lunch a few days later, I still ended up throwing out a ton of it. (Plus spaghetti does NOT taste good warmed up). If you like chili, I would definitely give this Cincinnati Chili a try.