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Have you ever been to Cincinnati? I hadn't until after 20 years of eating my mom's homemade Cincinnati Chili. She got the recipe from a newspaper clipping that her native Ohioan friend found in the '70s. It was one of my all-time favorite meals growing up; the distinctive smell filling the house as it simmered on the stove would send me into ecstasies. Then I went to an actual Skyline Chili restaurant on the actual Ohio river, and it tasted exactly like Mom's. There are lots of recipes out there claiming to be Cincinnati Chili, and Skyline claims the original recipe is a well-kept family secret. But people? I'm pretty sure this is the real deal.
This is the same recipe my mom's used for years, with two minor alterations. There's more meat, because why not? And the cooking process is slightly reordered to achieve the most flavor possible from all the different ingredients (e.g. cooking the spices with the browned meat instead of adding them after the liquid). Here's the drill.
Start by cooking your ground beef in a big pot over medium to high heat. When it's fully cooked, but before it starts browning, add finely chopped onions, lots of fresh minced garlic, and a bay leaf. Cook until the onions begin to get tender, then add all your spices: chili powder, cinnamon, cumin, allspice, cloves, and cayenne pepper. You can adjust the amount of this last item as much as you want to suit your taste. I'd probably triple or quadruple it because I like it hot!
Keep cooking and stirring until the beef is browned and the spices are beautifully fragrant. Then pour in some beef broth, deglaze the bottom of the pan, and add tomato sauce, apple cider vinegar, and the secret ingredient...
wait for it...
Yes, chocolate. This is where it's at, folks.
Stir everything in real good, bring it to a boil, then turn the heat to low, cover the pot, and let it simmer for about an hour. The Cincinnatians serve this over spaghetti noodles, topped with cheddar cheese, onions, kidney beans, and oyster crackers. You can use whatever combination of these you like.
And it's even better the next day!