Earlier this year I discovered the wonders of a warmly spiced savory meat dish. It was too long a time coming, but moussaka is in my heart to stay.
This chili, some of you from Cincinnati are no doubt nodding your head with knowing, is a cinnamon + chili + cumin and clove spiced meat dish served two ways, three ways, or FIVE WAYS: over spaghetti pasta topped with diced white onions, grated cheddar cheese, and kidney beans.
I’ve seen some of traditional, Mediterranean spiced Cincinnati Chili recipes that also include dark chocolate but this recipe opts out. I can only go so far where spaghetti and cheddar are involved.
This recipe bring on opinions. It’s not often you combine ground cinnamon and ground beef without ruffling a feather or two. The combination warm and comforting and the spice bring such an unexpected roundness to this hearty chili situation.
This recipe is from our girl Ree’s latest cookbook Come and Get It! It’s full of dang comforting home cooking so… so do as the title suggests, ya know?
Ready for this?
Here’s the grocery list, laid right out there.
We’re making a simple chili that’s essentially a spiced meat sauce.
• ground beef and broth
• onions and garlic
• tomato sauce and paste
• the spices that make this Cincinnati Chili exactly what it is: chili powder, cumin, cinnamon, cloves, and allspice
• vinegar and worcestershire sauce for depth and brightness
• a big ol bundle of spaghetti pasta, grated cheddar cheese, chopped onions, and kidney beans
In a large Dutch oven we’ll cook down the onions and garlic. It’s all about layering ingredients and flavor and everything savory and simmered starts with onions and garlic. Once softened it’s time for ground beef.
The fat is drained from the cooked beef and hello, hello it’s time for spice! It might feel aggressive and adventurous but go for it. These winter spices are warming and right.
To the spices and tomato paste we’ll add vinegar and worcestershire sauce – my very favorite secret ingredient to soups and stews. It’s salty, savory, and if you ask me (you did, right?) it brings all the savory elements together.
Beef broth, or really any sort of broth that feels right to you.
We’ve also got tomato sauce and bay leaves workin.
Simmer and simmer. Simmer some more.
Now is a good boil some pasta.
Plated, our dinner starts with a heaping pile of tender spaghetti (every time I type it I say it in my head like Giada).
Warm meat chili. And toppings! We’ll add all of them. Every simple one of them, starting with chopped white onions.
Cheddar cheese… and you know more is more is more, so do your thing.
And because this is chili, a few obligatory red kidney beans.
It’s deeply comforting. Are you picking up that vibe? Get some. It’s a very good plan.
The recipe below is generous. Rest easy knowing that the chili freezes well (separated from the pasta), or you can cut the recipe in half with equal success.
Photos with my dear friends: Jon Jon.
- 2 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 large onion, finely chopped (about 1 1/2 cups), some onions reserved for topping
- 5 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 pounds ground beef
- 3 tablespoons chili powder
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce
- 2 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 15-ounce can tomato sauce
- 2 cups beef broth
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 pound spaghetti, cooked for serving
- finely grated sharp cheddar cheese
- drained canned kidney beans, for serving
- In a large Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions and garlic and cook for for a couple of minutes, until the onions begin to soften. Five minutes should do.
- Add the ground beef and use the back of a spoon or spatula to break the ground beef up as it cooks. Saute until the beef is cooked through. Drain off the excess fat and discard.
- Add the spices and tomato paste. Stir to combine.
- Add the tomato sauce, beef broth, worcestershire, vinegar, and bay leaves. Stir all that in too.
- Reduce the heat to low and allow the chili to simmer, uncovered, for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Stir occasionally until lovely and thickened.
- For serving, spoon generously into bowls. Top with chopped onions, grated cheddar cheese, and a few spoonfuls of kidney beans. Enjoy warm.
- Store chili in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.