I had a wonderful birthday this year. It was on Monday after the family reunion festivities were officially over so we slept in a bit and then decided to go out for Cincinnati Chili. I may have left the Cincinnati area to live in another part of the country but I have never left behind my love for Cincinnati Chili.
Here’s what makes chili Cincinnati Chili: You start with a spicy (not hot, just spicy) chili spooned over spaghetti noodles and topped with shredded cheddar cheese. That’s a 3-way. Then the fun begins. You can add red kidney beans or onions. That makes a 4-way. If you add both, you get a 5-way. It is served with oyster crackers and lots of hot sauce. I’ll put the recipe I use when I make it at home at the end of this post in case you want to try it.
The definitive Cincinnati Chili is had at one of the many Skyline Chili restaurants around there. But there are other Cincinnati Chili restaurants around that are good. We discovered Blue Ash Chili while watching Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. It is worth a trip to Blue Ash to check this place out. What I like is that I can get a 4-way without onions but with jalapeno caps. I’m in heaven. Love those jalapenos. And if you have the chili with beans, onions and jalapeno caps, you get a 6-way.
After our lunch, Greg took us to the Blue Ash Rec Center where there is a replica of the Crosley Field scoreboard. Crosley Field is where the Cincinnati Reds played baseball when I was a kid. We went to quite a few games there over the years but I was lucky to attend the last game they played in Crosley with my parents and a couple of siblings on June 24, 1970. The Reds won 5-4. Johnny Bench and Lee May hit back to back home runs in that game. After the game, a helicopter came down and home plate was transferred by air from Crosley over to Riverfront Stadium where the Reds played from 1970 until 2002.
Then instead of birthday cake, I got a scoop of Graeter’s black raspberry chip ice cream. Oh, boy, it can’t be beat! Best ice cream on earth. Ask Oprah.
But to top it off, we went to dinner that night to the Olive Garden to celebrate my mother’s birthday, which is the day after mine and I got to have dinner with 18 of my family. It ended with Greg, my cousin Ken and my nephew Neil all singing happy birthday to my mother and me. It made getting older not so bad…at least for the day.
2 pounds ground beef
1 quart water
2 medium sized onions, grated
2 8-ounce cans tomato sauce
5 whole allspice
½ teaspoon red pepper
1 teaspoon ground cumin seed
4 tablespoons chili powder
½ ounce bitter chocolate
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons vinegar
1 large bay leaf
5 whole cloves
2 teaspoons Worcestershire
1 ½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
- Add ground beef to water in 4 quart pot, stir until beef separates to a fine texture. Boil slowly for half an hour.
- Add all other ingredients. Stir to blend, bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer uncovered for about 3 hours. Last hour, pot may be covered after desired consistency is reached.
- Remove bay leaf.
- Chili should be refrigerated overnight so that fat can be lifted from top before reheating. Not necessary if using extra lean beef.
Serve it in one of the following traditional styles:
Chili and Spaghetti
3 way – chili, spaghetti, and shredded cheddar cheese
4 way - chili, spaghetti, cheddar and onion or beans
5 way – chili, spaghetti, cheddar, onion and beans
Coney Island – a frankfurter in a bun topped with chili, cheese and onions or any of the above ingredients.
There is nothing in any of these combinations that an antacid can’t remedy!