Sunday, March 22, 2015

Dining-In: A Culinary Tour of America-Cincinnati, Ohio

The City: Cincinnati, Ohio
This is the first big city I've explored so far on this journey and I am really happy I chose it. When I thought of this project, this was one of the first destinations I came up with and I knew exactly what I wanted to try here. I was not disappointed.

Cincinnati is Ohio's third largest city and was founded in 1788. It has approximately 332,252 people living there and as of the 2007 census, 23.5% of them live below the poverty line. It is the 10th poorest city in the nation.

The city's geographical location made it an important place during the Civil War. The city is located along the Ohio River, which shares a border with the state of Kentucky. Kentucky was a slave state, and Ohio was a non-slave state, however, a lot of people in Ohio did business with slave-owning businesses in the bordering states, so the citizens of the city supported both sides of the war. The Union Army, however used Cincinnati as a major supply base.

Cincinnati is also the location of some rather interesting firsts for American history. The first major league baseball game was played there in 1935, and it also is home to the first concrete-reinforced skyscraper that was built in 1902.

The Food:
Cincinnati/Skyline Chili
Cincinnati is known as the "Chili Capital of America"-sorry Texas. I have seen Cincinnati's chili highlighted many times on the Food Network which is where I saw it first and decided I wanted to try making it sometime. When I had to pick a place in Ohio to feature, there was no doubt in my mind that it would be Cincinnati, and I knew the food would be the chili. If you have ever heard of the term "Cincinnati Threeway," this is what they're referring to. Each "way" refers to another addition to the toppings. The chili is a meat-based sauce without beans. One of the "ways" you can have it, is with beans added. I kept mine very traditional as far as toppings go, but I did revamp the chili itself to fit my own dietary needs. I based it on one recipe I found online and tweaked it based on some of the comments that explained how the original version was. I will provide the link to the original recipe, but I will write out what I did for mine for you to read here.

Cincinnati/Skyline Chili:

1/2 large onion, chopped
1 pound ground chicken
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon red (cayenne) pepper-this can be doubled if you like more heat.
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1/2 cup water
Toppings (see below)

In a frying pan, cook the onion, garlic, and chicken in a little bit of oil. I used canola, but vegetable or olive oil would work well too.

Mix the tomato sauce, water, and all the spices in a crock pot, and when the chicken and onion mixture is cooked, pour it into the crock pot as well. Cook on low for 3-4 hours. You can do this on the stove as well if you want, but the crock pot is the greener option for something that needs to simmer for a long time. It uses far less energy to use a crock pot than the stove top. If you do use a pot on the stove, simmer for 1.5 hours.

The toppings are traditionally as follows:
Two-Way Chili:   Chili served on spaghetti
Three-Way Chili:   Additionally topped with shredded Cheddar cheese
Four-Way Chili:   Additionally topped with chopped onions
Five-Way Chili:   Additionally topped with kidney beans

I did mine as the three-way. I cooked pasta, I used fettuccine because I had a box I wanted to use up, but I think any pasta would work. Elbow macaroni in particular would work really well. As with one of the comments in the link I used, it emphasized the importance of using oyster crackers over the pasta too, which I did as well. They got pretty soggy pretty quickly, but I think the next time I'll put them over the very top so they'll be crunchy for longer. I also used shredded cheddar cheese, which to me was a vital flavor component.


This was so good! I was concerned about the allspice and the cinnamon but it really was a great addition to the spice blend. I think it'll improve over time too, so I am really excited about the leftovers tomorrow night. I'm sorry that nobody else will get to taste-test this, but I will be keeping all the leftovers for myself! It was that good.

I would definitely make this again and I will probably double the recipe and freeze portions because I don't see why it wouldn't freeze and thaw out easily. This was a great alternative to spaghetti sauce and I cannot recommend it highly enough. It was super easy to make. Almost embarrassingly easy.


City Pic

Census Info

Cincinnati Chili recipe

All historical info came from Wikipedia


  1. When I ran a marathon in Cincinnati I came back with a chili recipe and I loved that it was on spaghetti! I remember being worried about the spices but it was yum. I'd have to track down the postcard but I think it was very similar. Except I used veggie meat instead of ground beef (or chicken).