Cincinnati Chili and Hot Links

All, Beef & Veal

Cincinnati chili is unlike any other chili. For one thing, it is usually served with spaghetti. For another, it is ordered and served several “ways”. For example, the chili by itself is “one way chili”. With spaghetti, it is “two way” chili. And by adding cheese, beans, and onion, you can get up to five way chili. Or maybe more; we’ll have to ask someone from Cincinnati.

Here’s a recipe for four way chili with hot links. Now this chili was made without any formal agreement between Ohio and Texas, so I hope there’s no trouble here. But I do know it’s good.

I adapted the basic chili recipe from one I saw in Cook’s Illustrated some time ago. If you can only afford one subscription that is cooking oriented, this is the one to get. They not only provide recipes and have a great web site, but they also discuss the research they went through to find the best way to cook something.

If you are not going to include the spaghetti in this recipe, you need to cut down on the liquid. The chili starts out very soupy, but the added moisture is necessary to cook the spaghetti. Eliminate the cup of water in the recipe, and you’ll wind up with a good quick chili for chili dogs or tamales.


Four or five hot link sausages
1 pound 85 percent ground beef
2 medium or 1 large onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
3 cups chicken broth
2 tablespoons vinegar
2 teaspoons brown sugar
1 can (15 ounce) tomato sauce
1 cup water
1/2 pound spaghetti


Chopped onion
Chopped cilantro
Shredded cheese
Hot sauce


Crumble the ground beef in a skillet and stir and chop until it begins to brown. While it’s still a little pink, add the next seven ingredients and continue to cook until the beef is brown. Add the broth, vinegar, brown sugar, tomato sauce and water. Cover and simmer for 1/2 hour.

Break the spaghetti noodles in half and add them to the skillet. Cut the hot links into 1/2 inch slices on the diagonal and add them to the pot. Cover and simmer again for 15 minutes. By then the spaghetti should be done, the hot links warmed up, and the chili thickened.

Serve with a small salad, rolls or bread, and beer or wine. Sprinkle over each dish the garnishes of your choice.

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