Why should the people of Ohio produce a chili with the consistency of a sloppy joe and the aroma of a Moroccan souk and then serve it over spaghetti?  Because one of those people was a Macedonian immigrant named Athanas Kiradjieff who, in the 1920s, ran a hot dog stand called the Empress. He served his recipe for chili over hot dogs but, for reasons that have been lost in the mists of time, the dogs eventually were replaced by spaghetti.  Maybe Macedonian chili reminded someone in Cincinnati’s Italian population of bolognese?  Served on its own, the chili is “one way”, over spaghetti it is “two ways”,  with cheese it’s “three ways”, onions make it “four ways” and with beans it becomes the ultimate, locally revered, “five-way” Cincinatti chili.

For the chili:

2 pounds ground chuck

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 medium onions, chopped fine (about 2 cups)

3 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 2 teaspoons)

2 tablespoons chili powder, or to taste

2 teaspoons dried oregano

2 teaspoons cocoa

1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon cayenne

½ teaspoon ground allspice

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 cups low-sodium chicken broth

2 cups water

2 tablespoons cider vinegar

2 teaspoons dark brown sugar

2 cups tomato sauce


Tabasco sauce


As accompaniments:

1 pound spaghetti, cooked, drained and tossed with 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

12 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

one 15-ounce can red kidney beans, drained, rinsed and warmed (simmer in water to cover for several minutes and then drain)

1 medium onion, chopped fine (about 1 cup)

  1. Set a large skillet over medium heat and add the oil. When the oil is warm, add the onions and cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are soft and browned around the edges, about 8 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Transfer the mixture to a 5-quart saucepan, add the ground beef to the skillet and cook, stirring and breaking up the lumps, until the meat is no longer pink.  Transfer beef to the casserole and stir in the chili powder, oregano, cocoa, cinnamon, cayenne, allspice, black pepper and 1 teaspoon salt.  Cook, stirring constantly, until the spices are fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Stir in the broth, water, vinegar, sugar and tomato sauce, scraping the pan bottom to remove any browned bits.
  1. Increase the heat to high. As soon as the liquid boils, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the chili is deep red and has thickened slightly, about 1 hour.  Adjust the seasonings, adding salt and Tabasco sauce to taste.  (The chili can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days.  Bring to a simmer over medium-low heat before serving).
  1. To serve, divide the buttered spaghetti among individual bowls. Spoon the chili over the spaghetti and top with cheese, beans and onion.  Serve immediately.


adapted from America’s Test Kitchen Live!


Leave a Reply