“Why is a chili called chili when it’s really hot?”

When I first served this chili to my husband we got into a long discussion about geography, i.e., the exact location of Cincinnati and whether this chili is more appropriately an east coast chili.  The reasoning behind this discussion, is at best, tedious.  Suffice it to say that our school systems leave a lot to be desired.

What I like about this recipe – you don’t have to brown the meat to get this thing started.  You simply dump ground beef into a kettle with lots of water, bring it to a boil, turn it down to a simmer, and you’re almost there.

What I wondered about this recipe – can it be tweaked so that a person not smitten with the seasonings in Cincinnati Chili (see aforementioned husband) could simply make the chili with more traditional chili ingredients and never again have to brown ground beef as long as they live?  OK, I’m overreacting, but next to browning ground beef, I guess I abhor mincing food for any recipe.

What I need to clarify – aforementioned husband is no more likely to actually cook anything (I did refer to him as a person who could “simply make”) than he is to suggest we take ballroom dance lessons.  No segue.


2 pounds ground beef

4 cups plus 1/2 cup water

2 cups onion, finely diced

4 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 cup mild chili powder, more or less to suit your taste

1 T unsweetened cocoa

1/2 T salt

1/2 t cayenne pepper, very optional

1 t ground cinnamon

1 t ground cumin

1/2 t ground allspice

1/4 t ground cloves

1 bay leaf

8 ounces tomato sauce

14.5 ounces crushed tomatoes

2 T cider vinegar

1 T liquid aminos


Place the ground beef along with the initial 4 cups of cold water into a large soup pot.  Bring to a boil, stirring and breaking up the beef into a very fine texture.  Simmer slowly for about 30 minutes.

Stir in everything else, including the additional 1/2 cup of water, which makes no sense whatsoever.  Why couldn’t it go in at the beginning?  I’m just the messenger who tweaks recipes to my liking but felt compelled to do this separate water thing.

Simmer for about 2 hours, not you, the chili.  Nowhere does it suggest you cover the pot.  This helps the chili ease into a lovely thickness.

Should’ve used a larger kettle?
two hours
After 2 hours

In Cincinnati, people eat this served over spaghetti noodles, using it almost as a spaghetti sauce.  Oftentimes they top it with diced onion, grated cheese, and/or kidney beans.  We gluten free people can and do serve it over zucchini noodles or spaghetti squash.

Zucchini noodles, onions and cheese

After this is cooled it can be frozen in wide-mouth pint jars.  Just remember to cool it first and leave about an inch head space at the top of the jar.  If you don’t, the contents will expand and crack the jar.  Ask me how I know!

Loveya – The Grandma

lo-carb meats

Grandma Pat View All →

Artist, African hand drum student, yoga neophyte, and Grandmother of 22 or so grandchildren. I enjoy cooking and writing. I value good friends and quiet times for reading.

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