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Slow cooker recipes: Cincinnati chili is easier than you think

Put it over spaghetti, we dare you

Cincinnati chili
Breville USA/Flickr

This time of year, everyone loves good slow cooker recipes. You want one that warms, comforts, and greets you with a delicious scent the moment you walk through the door after a long, chilly autumn day. The slow cooker is a beautiful thing for that very reason – not only does it provide a nearly prep-free meal, but it’s the gift that keeps on giving with its delicious promise of a warm and hearty meal through tantalizingly exquisite aromas filling the house all day. And while we all love common slow cooker recipes – a meaty pot roast or Kung Pao chicken, sometimes what we’re craving at the end of the day is something a bit out of the ordinary. That’s why we love this recipe for Cincinnati chili.

Cincinnati chili is tremendously unique in the world of varying (sometimes competing) American chili dishes. Its flavors are warmer and more exotic, which makes sense as its origins aren’t American at all, but Greek. In the early 20th century, Greek-Macedonian immigrant brothers John and Tom Kiradjieff opened a restaurant in Cincinnati. Their chili was flavored with traditional ingredients like chili pepper and cumin but also included more familiar Mediterranean ingredients such as allspice and cinnamon. The deliciously comforting dish caught on, and Cincinnati chili quickly became a regional favorite.

This spicy chili is traditionally served over spaghetti with a generous topping of shredded cheddar on top. Depending on the locals you happen to ask, the best way to enjoy this chili is over spaghetti, with or without cheese, kidney beans, and/or grated white onion. Within these barriers, one cannot go wrong. Just make sure to always, always use your fork to cut the pasta into bite-size portions. Twirling is absolutely out of the question.

Cincinnati chili
Kate Hopkins/Flickr

Cincinnati chili recipe

While spaghetti is the traditional choice for serving Cincinnati chili, another popular option is pouring a generous heap over hot dogs. If you ask us, this is the absolute best way to make chili dogs.

Ingredients:

  • 16 ounces tomato sauce
  • 12 ounces tomato paste
  • 1 yellow onion, grated
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons garlic salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 pounds of ground beef
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 pound spaghetti, cooked according to package directions
  • 15 ounces kidney beans, drained (optional topping)
  • 1 white onion, diced (optional topping)
  • Cheddar cheese, grated (optional topping)

Method:

  1. In the bowl of a slow cooker, combine the tomato sauce, tomato paste, onions, chili powder, cocoa powder, sugar, cinnamon, cumin, garlic salt, allspice, cayenne, cloves, bay leaves, salt, pepper, beef, and water. Mix until combined.
  2. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours or high for 6 hours.
  3. 30 minutes prior to serving, stir in vinegar and simmer on low.
  4. Serve over spaghetti with optional toppings, or any way you like.
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Lindsay Parrill
Lindsay is a graduate of California Culinary Academy, Le Cordon Bleu, San Francisco, from where she holds a degree in…
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