Cincinnati 5-Way Chili

I never lived in Cincinnati. I knew nothing about this dish until I moved to Oklahoma. It’s also not native to Oklahoma, but that is the place where I discovered a fast-food restaurant that specialized in 5-way chili. I loved that chili mountain on a plate, from the base camp of spaghetti, through the levels of hot and sweet-spiced chili, beans, and chopped white onion, to the summit of shredded cheddar cheese.

2 pounds ground beef
1 large onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, chopped
½ teaspoon pepper
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground allspice
½ teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons cocoa
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 can (6 ounces) tomato paste
1 can (8 ounces) tomato sauce
2 cups low-sodium beef broth

1 pound spaghetti, cooked
2 cans kidney beans
shredded cheddar
1 white onion, chopped

Crumble beef into crockpot. Add garlic and yellow onion. Add salt, pepper, allspice, cloves, cinnamon, cumin, cocoa, chill powder, vinegar, tomato paste, tomato sauce, and broth; mix thoroughly. Cook on high 6 hours; low 8 hours.

To assemble a bowl of 5-Way Chili:
Layer spaghetti, chili, beans, cheese, and chopped white onion in each bowl. Subtract successive items to make 4-Way (no onions), 3-Way (no beans, either), and 2-Way Chili (no cheese, just spaghetti and chili). This leaves a bowl of just plain chili to be 1-Way Chili. That will be just fine all by itself.


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