Fifty States of New Recipe Tuesday – Week Seventeen – Ohio – Cincinnati Chili

Welcome to week 17 of Fifty States of New Recipe Tuesday. This week we welcome the state of Ohio, who joined the union on… well, that seems to be a bit complicated.

Without making it too long winded, this is what I learned. During the presidency of Thomas Jefferson, Congress passed an act (The Enabling Act of 1802) that allowed the citizens of a territory to form a state constitution, which was a requirement for recognition by the federal government to be formally admitted as a state.

On November 29, 1802 (the first date), the Ohio Constitutional Convention completed their state constitution, and quickly submitted it to Congress, forgetting the important step of having it approved by the voters for approval. Congress ignored this important step and simply admitted the state of Ohio on February 19, 1803 (the second date). Ten days later, on March 1, 1803 (date #3), the first general assembly of the new state convened, with Edward Tiffin already elected by a vote as the new governor.

Because so much happened that was actually outside true laws of the time, Ohio was left with several dates, all of which had merit, but none had complete consensus. It was mostly overlooked for the rest of the century, and not until the state approached its centennial did it really heat up. The debate continued, unresolved until August of 1953, when Congress approved a joint resolution that rectified its earlier errors and omissions. It also made the action retroactive, which kept Ohio as the 17th state rather than the 48th. It was mutually decided by Congress and the Ohio legislature that March 1st, 1803 would be the recognized date, which satisfied most, but not all Ohioans. But they all agree that Ohio did become a state during Thomas Jefferson’s presidency.

Wow, what an interesting piece of history. Again, I have learned something about US history that I never knew. And I guess that even my “short” version is a bit of a lengthy tale.

On to food! Although Ohio may have a lot of statehood lore, finding a new recipe from the state was rather simple. What I decided on was Cincinnati Chili.

The story of this dish originated with immigrant restaurateurs from the Macedonian region who were trying to expand their customer base by moving beyond narrowly ethnic styles of cuisine. The chili was originally concocted as a topping for hot dogs, and later expanded into a dinner dish that was served over spaghetti. Some people unfamiliar with the name are often surprised when they are given a meal that looks like spaghetti with meat sauce, but the intense spice flavors make it very non-Italian. I also discovered that there are “ways” that this dish is served, and the most popular restaurants that serve this dish all have a similar methodology. The first thing I thought of was Waffle House and how they have smothered, covered, etc as ordering methods for their home fries. Similarly, Cincinnati Chili has its own 3-way, 4-way and 5-way versions. All start the same way with spaghetti and chili. The 3-way version includes a mound of cheddar cheese. The 4-way is cheese and onions or beans. The 5-way is cheese, onions and beans. Pretty simple.

I decided to have mine 5-way. And I have to say, this was really good. I like the interesting spices in this dish. The addition of cocoa give the dish a deep hardiness, and the allspice, cinnamon and clove add a sweetness and exotic flavor to it. With a little prep, the whole dish comes together in about 1 ½ hours. I give it a solid A, and wouldn’t change anything in this version from Skyline Chili.

Cincinnati Chili

Enjoy! And see you next week in Louisiana!

Recipe for Cincinnati Chili (from The Zone Magazine)


2 lbs ground beef
2 cups chopped onion
4 cups beef stock
2 (8 oz) cans tomato sauce
2 Tbsp chili powder
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 oz. grated, unsweetened chocolate OR 2 1/2 Tbsp cocoa
2 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/8 tsp bay leaf powder or 1 bay leaf


Brown the ground beef and onion; then drain.
Add beef stock and simmer for approximately 10 minutes.
Add the rest of the ingredients and allow chili to simmer, uncovered for 1 hour.
Remove the bay leaf and skim off the fat.

Serve over:
Spaghetti noodles

Optional Toppings:
chopped onions
finely shredded cheddar cheese
kidney beans
oyster crackers




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