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Cincinnati-Style Chili

Happy Monday everyone!  We had a nice weekend – the skies were blue and the temperatures were in the low 60s; two lovely days of Indian Summer.  We enjoyed it a great deal, which is good because a nasty front is moving through our area today, bringing very cold temperatures, rain and maybe even – sigh – snow.

Ah, well.  One of the nicer things about living in northeast Ohio is that there are actual seasons.  There are two seaons in northeast Texas:  Summer and Christmas.  It’s said there are four in northeast Ohio:  Almost Winter, Winter, Still Winter and Construction, but I’ve found that Spring, Summer and Autumn all make appearances, however brief they may seem.

But I think I may have been here too long, if I’m making this dish.  Seriously, when I first moved north, I was appalled at what passes for chili here.  In Podunk, at least, it is little more than tomato soup with ground beef and beans in it.  And those crazy people down in Cincinnati put their version of chili on spaghetti!  It all just seemed so…wrong.

Well, that will teach me, because the idea of making Cincinnati-Style Chili has been lurking around in what passes for my brain for some time now.  I do have to confess that I’ve never actually eaten Cincinnati-style chili, but that doesn’t mean I can’t speculate on how good (or bad) it might be, and how I would like it to taste.  So I made it Friday night and you know what?  It was pretty darn good.

First, I didn’t serve it on traditional spaghetti, of course, but on a bed of perfectly cooked spaghetti squash which I roasted until it was just fork tender.  The result was spaghetti squash that was almost perfectly al dente.  Secondly, I indulged in some rare – for me, anyway – dairy and tossed the squash with some ghee and some Parmesan cheese.  Traditional Cincinnati-style chili is often topped with beans, which I omitted, cheese and chopped onion, which I included.  It seemed necessary for the dish, but you are more than welcome to leave the dairy out if you want to avoid it.

Lastly, as I mentioned I’ve never actually eaten this kind of chili, so I basically made and tweaked a double batch of my hot dog chili.  My excuse for this, besides the fact that it’s easy and pretty darn tasty, is that I had a commenter tell me her neighbor made the hot dog chili recipe, added jalapenos and beans, and won a chili cook-off with it.

Well, okay then.

I don’t know if it is chili cook-off worthy, but as Cincinnati-style chili, it’s pretty darn good.  I’ll make it again.

Cincinnati-Style Chili

Cincinnati-Style Chili

5.0 from 5 reviews
Cincinnati-Style Chili
Serves: 8
  • 1 large spaghetti squash (about 3 pounds)
  • 2 tablespoons ghee or butter
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 six-ounce cans tomato paste
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon ancho chili powder
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cumin
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 2 tablespoons prepared yellow mustard
  • 2 teaspoons kosher or sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup onion, diced
  • 2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Slice the spaghetti squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds in the center. Add enough water to cover the bottom of a baking dish large enough to hold both halves of the squash, and place the squash in the pan, cut side down. Roast for 30 to 40 minutes, or just until tender enough to be pierced with the tines of a fork. Take care not to overcook.
  3. While the squash is roasting, brown the ground beef in a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat, breaking it up with a wooden spoon as it cooks. While it is still somewhat pink, add the onion and continue cooking until the meat is cooked through and the onion is soft and translucent.
  4. Reduce the heat to medium and stir in the tomato paste, water, spices and salt and pepper. Simmer uncovered and stirring occasionally, until the chili is thickened, about 20 minutes.
  5. Once the squash is roasted, scrape out the flesh with a fork to make long strands into a bowl, handling the hot squash with care. Toss the spaghetti squash with the ghee and Parmesan and divide between 8 plates. Top with the chili, cheese and onion and serve.
  6. Nutrition (per serving): 494 calories, 28.8g total fat, 119.1mg cholesterol, 1251.7mg sodium, 1097.4mg potassium, 20g carbohydrates, 5g fiber, 9.3g sugar, 42.4g protein


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