Cincinnati Style Chili Mac

Cincinnati Style Chili Mac

aka The Championship Chili

The zesty cousin of red-hot Texas chili, this Cincinnati style chili mac has a whole lot of soul in the form of a long line of herbs and spices.  Originally perfected by Greek immigrants, this slow-cooked, saucy treat is known for its long list of seemingly unusual ingredients.  In addition, the chili is traditionally served without beans and over spaghetti – you’ll see when you make this chili that it actually cooks up like a bolognese.

I first became familiar with it via the DC restaurant, Hard Times Cafe, where the chili is served in “ways”.  Starting with your basic chili, each additional topping is considered a way – so two-way is spaghetti and chili, three-way is spaghetti, chili and cheese, four-way is spaghetti, chili, cheese and onions, and five-way is all of the above plus pink beans.

When I make this at home, I scrap the beans and serve it over elbow macaroni – it’s such a bowl of unpretentious goodness, eating this chili ensures some serious chillaxin’.  Or as I think the Fresh Prince would put it, “Chillin’ out max and relaxin’ all cool and all, eatin’ some chili outside of the school.” My husband also attributes this recipe to helping the Green Bay Packers win the Superbowl in 2011. I was on a kick where I had to make the chili every game day to ensure a Packer win, and lo and behold…who am I to mess with success?

Cincinnati-Style Chili Mac

2 lbs. of ground beef
1 can of beer
6 plum tomatoes, finely chopped
2 jalapenos, minced
1/2 an onion, finely diced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 c. of chili powder
2 tbs. of salt
1 tbs. of garlic powder
1 tbs. of onion powder
1 tbs of cumin
1 tbs. of paprika
1 tbs. of worcestershire sauce
3 tbs. of red wine vinegar
1 tbs. of mesquite liquid smoke
2 tbs. of brown sugar
1 tsp of oregano
1 tsp. of cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp. of cinnamon
1/2 tsp. of allspice
pinch of white pepper
pinch of unsweetened chocolate powder
1 bay leaf
1 can of beef stock
4 c. of water

In a large dutch oven, brown your beef.  Drain of fat except for a tablespoon or two, and then add the tomatoes, jalapenos, onions and garlic.  Sauté veggies and meat until the garlic and onions become fragrant, about 2 minutes.  Pour in the can of beer and allow the alcohol to cook off.  Add the rest of the ingredients and bring to a boil.  Turn heat down to medium-low and simmer until the liquid reduces completely, about 4 hours.  The mixture should be dark red and very thick, like a good meat sauce.

If you can afford to wait, let your chili cool and refrigerate over night.  The next day, warm the chili in a pot with an additional cup of water.  Reduce a second time and then serve.

To assemble, start with a bed of elbow macaroni, top with a ladle-full of chili, then sprinkle sharp cheddar cheese and raw diced onions on top.  Done.