I’m a little nervous about today’s post. Chili has devoted fans. The kind of people who put “fanatic” back in fan. And, while I’m an Ohio boy, I’ve never been to Cincinnati. So, some people could view this recipe as blasphemous…not quite blasphemous as an Ohio boy posting a Texas chili recipe, but close.
I don’t care. I love Cincinnati chili. When I was working my first job out of college, a group of us would go to Skyline Chili once a week for lunch. It was the high point of my week, which probably tells you how that job was going for me.
Cincinnati chili is very saucy, which is good, because it is used to top a plate of spaghetti, and is then topped with a pile of shredded cheese. Think of it as closer to spaghetti sauce than a bowl of Texas red. It is served in five different “ways”, each ingredient layered from the bottom:
- One way – chili (usually called “a bowl of chili”)
- Two way – spaghetti topped with chili
- Three way – spaghetti, chili, cheese
- Four way – spaghetti, chili, onions, cheese
- Five way – spaghetti, chili, beans, onions, cheese
I’ve been trying to get the mix of spices right for years; here’s my current best guess. I use my pressure cooker to speed things up. And…and…I’m not sure I should admit this, but…I like to cook the beans in the chili. Why cook them separately when I can cook them with the spices, and add to the flavor? This makes me a Cincinnati chili heretic, of course. Look out, here come the angry mob, straight up I-71!
*No pressure cooker? No worries. Check the notes section for regular stove top instructions.
Recipe: Pressure Cooker Cincinnati Chili
- 6 quart or larger pressure cooker (That’s a Cuisinart Electric PC in the pictures, but my favorite is now an Instant Pot Electric PC.)
Pressure Cooker Cincinnati Chili recipe – a taste of the queen city from your pressure cooker in about an hour.
- 1 pound dried red kidney beans, sorted and rinsed
- 3 quarts water
- 3 tablespoons table salt (or 6 tablespoons kosher salt)
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 2 medium onions, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed through a garlic press
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 cup chili powder
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 1 tablespoon ground coriander
- 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 1/2 pounds ground beef
- 4 cups water
- 1 (14 oz) can crushed tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- Salt and pepper to taste
Other ingredients and condiments
- 1 pound dried spaghetti, cooked according to package directions in salted water
- 8 ounces (4 cups) finely grated cheddar cheese
- Minced onions
- Oyster crackers
- Hot sauce (I use Frank’s red hot, but it’s milder than what they serve at Skyline.)
- Brine the beans: 8 hours before cooking (or the night before), sort and rinse the kidney beans, then cover with 3 quarts water and add the salt. Soak the beans at room temperature until it is time to cook, then drain and rinse carefully.
- Sauté the aromatics: Heat the vegetable oil in the pressure cooker over medium-high heat until shimmering, then add the onions, garlic, and 1 teaspoon kosher salt to the pressure cooker. Sauté the onions and garlic until softened, about 5 minutes.
- Toast the spices and cook the beef: Make a hole in the center of the onion/garlic mix and add the chili powder, cumin, coriander, cocoa powder, allspice, cinnamon, cloves, and bay leaf. Let sit for 30 seconds to toast the spices, then stir them into the onions. Add the ground beef and cook, stirring and breaking up any clumps, until the beef just loses its pink color.
- Cook the chili: Stir the drained and rinsed kidney beans into the pot, then pour in the water, and add the crushed tomatoes on top. (Do not stir; the tomatoes may burn if they get to the bottom of the pot.) Lock the lid on the pressure cooker and bring the cooker up to high pressure. (Read your fine pressure cooker manual for how to do this). Cook at high pressure for 20 minutes in an electric PC, 15 minutes in a stovetop PC. Let the pressure come down naturally, about 15 minutes. Stir in the cider vinegar and brown sugar, then add salt and pepper to taste.
- Serve the chili: Put a layer of spaghetti on the plate, top with a generous layer of chili, sprinkle on the minced onions, then heap on the cheese. Pass the oyster crackers to sop up the thin sauce, and hot sauce for anyone who wants to add some heat.
*No pressure cooker? No worries. Cook the recipe in a dutch oven, following the instructions. In step 3, instead of pressure cooking on high, bring all the ingredients to a boil, cover the pot and move it to a 350*F oven for 2 hours, or until the beans are tender. Remove from the oven, and season to taste.
*Even quicker pressure cooker chili: If you have pre-cooked beans, you can use them instead of dried. Skip the brining step. In step 4, cook the chili for 5 minutes under high pressure. Rinse the beans, and serve them with the chili on top of the
*As with most stews and chilis, this recipe freezes well. I freeze it in 2 cup containers for future lunches.
What do you think? Questions? Other ideas? Leave them in the comments section below.
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