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Spaghetti topped with chili and cheeseSo, our friend Matt is from Cincinnati.  Or used to live there.  Or likes the city.  I don’t know, it’s very convoluted.  He went to high school here over ten years ago, so…..he’s kind of from here.

Don’t tell him that though.

Anyway, Matt is one of Jay’s bffs from way back, and I actually met him before Jay.  So, he’s my friend too, not just “one of Jay’s friends.”

It’s important to me that you know that, so it doesn’t appear that my only friends came from my fiancee.

I have issues.

ANYWAY, Matt is a foodie like us, which is nice for me because it means sometimes we can talk about things that aren’t sports. Apparently some time back he made Cincinnati chili for Jay, and I haven’t heard the end of it – I’ve never eaten the stuff except for what is depicted in this recipe, but Jay requested that we make it on a Sunday when we decided that drinking all day was the ticket to happiness.

That happened last Sunday!  I got lots of info from Matt and the interwebz about what Cincinnati chili entails, and here’s my best go at it.  For those of you who don’t know, it’s chili made with Greek-ish seasonings served over pasta.  It’s weird, in the BEST way.

Here’s what you need!  I made mine heavy on meat, light on beans.  Traditionally, this is an all-meat chili and beans are an additional topping, but I was rebellious and threw them right into the pot.  Take THAT, Cincy.

  • 2 lbs ground beef
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 large onion or 1 whole medium onion
  • 1 whole carrot
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 sprinkle nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon allspice
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • salt, to taste
  • 15.5 oz kidney beans, drained (1 regular can)
  • 15.5 oz beef stock
  • 1 lb spaghetti
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 additional onion, chopped, for serving
  • 2 cups grated sharp cheddar, for serving
  • pickled jalapenos, for serving

See?  The spices are what MAKES this.  The chili itself is super simple!  First, we’re going to get the beef going.  So, preheat a large soup pot with the olive oil to medium/medium-high heat.

Ground beef

Add the beef, and let it work!

Start beef in hot pot

As the beef starts to cook, break it up with a spoon – we want it super crumbly.

Sautee beef gently

Meanwhile, we’re going to puree the veggies so they’re chopped super finely.  If you don’t have a food processor don’t worry – just chop everything really small.  Also, forgive my carrot.  It was having an old day.


Take off any peel or ends, then cut the veggies into rough chunks.  Toss them in the food processor.

Chunks of veggies

Then give them a whirl!

Veggies in food processor

Everything doesn’t have to be perfect, just mainly a fine chop.

Whirred veggies

When the beef is very crumbly and cooked through, add all the spices and tomato paste with a sprinkle of salt.  THIS is the flavor we’re looking for!  Stir everything together, and YUM.  So delicious.

Add spices to pot

Then, add the veggies to the pot.

Add veggies to meat and spices

Stir that together, and let the veggies, spices, and beef cook together for 3 minutes or so.

Stir veggies into beef and spices

Now, glug in the Worcestershire.  I love this stuff.

Add worcestershire to beef and spices

Then, grab the kidney beans.  You can rinse yours if you like, but I don’t.  I like the starchy quality that canned beans bring, so I drain but don’t rinse mine.  Sorry.

Open and drain kidney beans

Add the beans and the beef stock to the pot, and stir everything together.

Add beef stock and beans after spices

Reduce the heat to medium-low or low so that the chili is just barely simmering.  Taste it, and add more Worcestershire or salt if you’d like!  Also, grab cayenne pepper.  You can omit this if you want, or you can dumb in a ton like I did.  How spicy you like your junk is your personal business.

Cayenne pepper additionally if you'd like

This chili is ready to go NOW, but you can also let it simmer for 20 – 30 minutes if you’d like!  Or, turn off the heat, leave the chili on the stove, and reheat it in a few hours when you’d like to serve.

Let chili simmer gently

Whenever you’re ready to heat, cook the spaghetti per the package directions.  When drained, add the butter in small pats to the spaghetti for flavor and to help it not stick together.  Let the butter melt into the spaghetti, and toss with tongs.

Pats of butter in pasta

Then, prep any toppings you’d like to use!

Prep toppings while chili simmers

Now, it’s time to serve!  I served this two ways, and I’m not sure we have a preference.

Top chili with pasta and toppings

The first serving method is bowls:  serve some chili, top it with a heap of pasta, and add any toppings you like!

Pasta over chili top view

Or, you can use a plate like regular spaghetti with meat sauce.  Pasta, chili, then toppings.

Spaghetti topped with chili and cheese

Frankly, it doesn’t matter.  This was DELICIOUS, and I can’t wait to make it again.

Twirly Spaghetti with Chili

Have you ever had Cincinnati chili?  How do you like it?  What’s your favorite serving method?