Swing State Chili

We had the best time making GOTV calls to swing states for President Obama’s reelection campaign. And as we anxiously awaited the results, we figured we had to celebrate our faith in those swing states (it worked!) by making and eating a beloved recipe from the most pivotal state: Ohio. Knowing about this unusual way of eating chili (on spaghetti?!) is one thing. Eating it another. Eating it is better. Recommend! (Especially with our favorite hot sauce, Crystal.)

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Cincinnati Chili (Saveur)

SERVES 4

Redolent of warm spices, deeply flavored Cincinnati-style chili, whether prepared two-way (chili over spaghetti), three-way (with cheese), four-way (with onions), or five-way (with a finishing flourish of kidney beans), is an enduring American classic.

  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 medium yellow onions, finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 lbs. ground beef
  • 2 tbsp. chili powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. ground allspice
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp. celery seed
  • 1 dried bay leaf
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper,to taste
  • 2 cups tomato sauce
  • 1 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3/4 lb. dried spaghetti
  • 1 15-oz. can red kidney beans, rinsedunder hot water and drained
  • 4 cups finely grated cheddar cheese
  • Oyster crackers

1. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic and half of the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, 5–6 minutes. Add beef, chili powder, cinnamon, allspice, cloves, cumin, oregano, nutmeg, celery seed, bay leaf, and salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until well browned, 6–8 minutes. Tilt skillet and spoon out and discard any accumulated fat. Add tomato sauce, cocoa powder, and 1 cup water; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, partially covered, until somewhat thick, about 25 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over medium-high heat. Add spaghetti and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, 8–10 minutes; drain. Put beans into a small pot and cook over medium heat, covered, stirring occasionally, until hot throughout. Divide spaghetti between 4 large bowls. Top with chili, cheese, remaining onions, and beans. Serve hot, with oyster crackers on the side.

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