Cincinnati Chili

Sally Redmond’s Cincinnati Chili
Sally lived across the street from us in Newton, and though she isn’t from Cincinnati, her husband Jeff is. In any case, they would have a Kentucky Derby Party every spring, with Mint Juleps, their own Tote Board, and this chili, served in small bowls. It was generally accompanied by creamy Cole slaw, since this chili has some spice.

The party would start well before the five o’clock Derby, so we could get our bets down and our tote board correct, and last into the night. Money changed hands. As the evening became night, dancing ensued in the living room. I often wound up dancing with Sally to tunes from Jackson Browne’s Late for the Sky LP.

Years later, I was flying from somewhere to somewhere and had to change planes in Cincinnati. I had an hour or so to kill, so I found the airport location of Skyline Chili to sample some Cincinnati Chili at the place of origin. Only then did I learn that Cincinnati chili lovers order their chili by number; “Two, Three, Four, or Five Way.”

  • Two-Way Chili: Chili served on spaghetti,
  • Three-Way Chili: ,that topped with shredded Cheddar cheese,
  • Four-Way Chili: ,that topped with chopped raw onions, and finally,
  • Five-Way Chili: ,all that topped with kidney beans.

I can’t say that the Skyline chili was better than Sally’s, so I haven’t tinkered with her recipe. I like mine Four-Way; chili over noodles topped with raw onions and shaved Cheddar cheese. I don’t use as much cheese or onions as the Skyline Chili folks because I love the taste of the chili.

Cincinnati Chili (sans toppings) can be frozen in serving portions for later enjoyment, one way or another.

1 quart beef broth
2 pounds ground beef
1 small onion, chopped
4 tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 clove garlic, chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground clove
dash ground red pepper
1 bay leaf
1 can tomato sauce (15 oz.)
2 tablespoons vinegar (cider or white)
1/2 oz. unsweetened chocolate

Bring broth to a boil, gradually add beef; stir until the meat separates into small pieces. Cover and simmer 30 minutes.

Add remaining ingredients, bring to a boil, and simmer uncovered for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.

Refrigerate overnight, skim off fat before reheating.

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