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Cincinnati Chili Revisited. (Or visited, however you want to look at it)

Okay fans, I noticed from my other thread about Cinci chili that people were wondering if I had tried it and what I though.

We just got back from our holidays and as I had said, we spent a night in Cinci.
First for the chili. I loved it. I think I liked Blue Ash Chili better than Skyline because to me, the flavours seemed to be more balanced. Skylines was a little heavier on the cinnamon. It's odd since I love cinnamon too. It could also be because I had a 3 way at BA and two coneys (Or as my wife and I called them, cheese with hot dog and chili). It was all good as far as I was concerned. My wife loved it too.

After the game was took the purple people bridge over to Newport on the Levee. There was a goetta festival going on over there. So I just had to try it. Had some goetta balls. Loved them too. We walked around for a while. The NOTL are is great. Very impressed.

After that, we checked out Arnolds. It's kind of a hole in the wall but we went out on the "Patio" had a beer and watched the band. I wish I could remember what the beer was. It was a micro brew lager. It was quite good too. The band, such that it was (Piano player/ singer and Upright bass player) were fantastic. We were sorry to leave but it had been a long day.

So I'm assuming there's no shortage of shredded cheddar in Cincinnati then?????


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  1. I've loved Skyline since I spent a couple of weeks in Cincinnati in 1995. I bought a four pack of canned Skyline over the net, but it paled in comparison to what I had in Ohio. Does anyone sell it frozen?

    I found a can in my cupboard on Sunday and there's that grated cheese my sister bought and never ate. Sounds like Skyline tomorrow night!

    2 Replies
    1. re: chocolatetartguy

      Kroger's sells it frozen in the Midwest.

      Stegners made a great canned Cincinnati chili but they files for bakruptcy liquidation last year.

      Kroger's also sells a Cincinnati Brand Chili Mix that when prepared carefully by the directions on the package, provides a pretty good facsimile of Cincinnati chili.

      1. re: jlawrence01

        I failed to mention that I am in Northern California. Otherwise, road trip!

    2. Yes, check with your local grocery store. Publix for example, sells Skyline.

      1. I've recently started ordering my coneys and chili without cheese (I've been eating it with cheese for over 20 years), I think the cheese masks the taste of the chili, as does using extra hot sauce.

        1 Reply
        1. re: jackrugby

          In my little world, I don't know that there is a point in time where there's too much cheese.


        2. There may be only five ingredients (spaghetti, chili, beans, onions, cheese) but it's amusing how many ways there are to order it. For instance, when Skyline packed their takeout in cardboard cups, you could order it "inverted", where they built it upside down (spaghetti on the top). That way, when you got it home, you'd tip the cup over onto a plate, and everything would be in the right order.
          My favorite: I saw this assembled at the Mount Washington Skyline -- take a jumbo plate, fill with spaghetti. Then cheese on top the spaghetti, chili over the cheese, then more cheese on top. The waitress then stuck it into the microwave to melt down the top cheese. What started out about 6 inches high was compress down to an inch and a half. Gooey, but interesting.
          By the way, I like my coneys without the hot dog. You order it as "chili-cheese-mustard-onion". Some people call this a "roast beef sandwich". I call it soup-in-a-bun. The Mount Washington store is one of the few that build it with cheese in the bun first, then the chili-mustard-onion, then more cheese. Most places skip the first layer of cheese.
          And when my kids were little (before they acquired the taste), they wanted coneys without the chili. These are called "weiners buns with cheese", and to their credit, Skyline puts two dogs in each bun.

          6 Replies
          1. re: johnbycz

            More often you see these coney's sans wiener called "phoney coney"s or "chili sandwiches"

            Mt Washington does not have a Skyline - perhaps you are thinking of Gold Star? There is a Skyline down the road a bit within a quarter mile of the intersection of Five Mile Road and Beechmont

            1. re: TJ Jackson

              Mt. Washington DOES have a Skyline just outside the city limits at Beechmont Ave. aAnd Markley Rd. by the United Dairy Farmers.

              Gold Star's HQ and flagship store has been in DT Mt. Washington.

              1. re: jlawrence01

                *shrug* I live in Mt Washington, and my understanding is that that location is not in Mt Washington. We're talking about the same location, and only disagreeing on whether it is in Mt Washington or not, so I'll drop the argument at this point.

              2. re: TJ Jackson

                A co-worker from Louisiana said they used to eat these all the time at county fairs. They call them "chili buns." Apparently, a very popular item in the south. Never understood it myself. Chili dog with no dog? Why not a cheeseburger with no burger, or a BLT with no B? Bewildering.

                1. re: monkeyrotica

                  *shrug* it is what it is.

                  on the Skyline menu (the online version at least - http://www.skylinechili.com/skyline_e...) you see it as a chili cheese sandwich. It is notable that they put on more chili than they would on a regular chili dog or coney

                  Same thing on the Gold Star menu (http://www.goldstarchili.com/menu/Tra...)

                2. re: TJ Jackson

                  The Skying on Beechmont between Salem and Five Mile (what I called Mount Washington) is listed in the phone book and on Skyline's web site as "Forestville", which I don't think I've ever heard anyone say. I used to know the manager and he called it Mount Washington.

              3. Believe it or not, I had a co-worker who always ordered EXTRA CHEESE at Skyline. I thought she was joking the first time she ordered.

                I bet you could find a good recipe for Cincinnati chili on the web. I made it once (with fake meat -- I know, I know) and it tasted pretty close to the real thing. However, the website where I found the recipe doesn't exist anymore, so I can't point you to it.

                6 Replies
                1. re: tapas

                  I just googled it and found lots of hits. America's Test Kitchen also did a version. I'll be making it at home soon. Look for a post from me on how it turns out. That said, soon could mean, "By Christmas"


                  1. re: Davwud

                    I can make one that I personally consider superior to any of the restaurant versions. I start by boiling ground beef in beef broth. Hint: Let it sit for a day in the refrigerator before reheating and eating. That way you can skim off the fat, and a bit of aging is also Skyline's secret. Hint #2: the flavors in this stuff are strong enough to stand up to a really extra-sharp Vermont or Wisconsin cheddar cheese. Try that, and you'll have a dish you can serve at a party.

                    For veggie folks: I have done the dish with beans alone, and it's still pretty darn good.

                    1. re: Jim M

                      Jim, if you're willing to accept the cries of "That's not chili!" in the Home Cooking board, I'd love to see a post there with more details of your recipe (I'm in the bean-only camp). All this talk of chili is making me crave it desparately. Plus, I need a good excuse to eat a pound of shredded cheddar.

                      1. re: tapas

                        I'm making it for dinner on Sunday night. I googled it and am using the first recipe that popped up. It looks like it's the right stuff.


                  2. re: tapas

                    Thanks. I keep forgetting that I have a Cincinnati chili refrigerator magnet with what sounds like a reasonable recipe. Maybe tonight. Should I add some Mayan Chocolate ice cream?

                    1. re: chocolatetartguy

                      Definitely ... and don't forget a scoop of cinnamon ice cream, too!

                  3. I have yet to try it, but Camp Washington Chili just off I75 on the Hopple Street exit usually wins the local surveys. My now-wife used to live nearby in the Clifton neighborhood, but, being a vegetarian, she was never too keen on trying it with me. As God as my witness, I will have Camp Washington Chili before I die!

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: bluesontap

                      Blue Ash Chili is also quite good, just open far fewer hours and less centrally located.

                      In addition to the longer hours and better (more centrally located and right off the highway) location, Camp Washington Chili also serves those other two cincinnati specialties: goetta and double decker sandwiches. Sort of a one stop Cincinnati experience, sans the graeters or aglamesis brothers ice cream.

                      1. re: TJ Jackson

                        Hey TJ

                        I'll have to stop there on the way down at Thanksgiving. My wife had thought about us hitting a Skyline on the way home this summer but we ended up eating in Bardstown, Kentucky. She didn't get to try goetta but ate some reheated chili on Saturday morning.

                        All you Cinci chili heads have been a great help and turned me onto something that was both weird sounding and the but of Ron White jokes. Not only is it good stuff but these threads have been some of the more entertaining ones I've read. You people sure are passionate about your chili.

                        Again, thanks

                    2. Okay, Cinci chili experts. Here's the recipe I used and I quite liked it. Can anyone try this and tell me how close it is. From my limited Cincinnati Chili experience my belief is it's a bit bitter (I'm guessing from the cocoa) and not liquidy enough.

                      1 large onion chopped
                      1 pound extra-lean ground beef
                      1 clove garlic, minced
                      1 tablespoon chili powder
                      1 teaspoon ground allspice
                      1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
                      1 teaspoon ground cumin
                      1/2 teaspoon red (cayenne) pepper
                      1/2 teaspoon salt
                      1 1/2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa (or 1/2 ounce grated unsweetened chocolate)
                      1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce
                      1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
                      1 tablespoon cider vinegar
                      1/2 cup water
                      1 (16-ounce) package uncooked dried spaghetti pasta
                      Toppings (see below)

                      In a large frying pan over medium-high heat, saute onion, ground beef, garlic, and chili powder until ground beef is slightly cooked. Add allspice, cinnamon, cumin, cayenne pepper, salt, unsweetened cocoa or chocolate, tomato sauce, Worcestershire sauce, cider vinegar, and water. Reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered, 1 1/2 hours. Remove from heat.

                      Cook spaghetti according to package directions and transfer onto individual serving plates (small oval plates are traditional).

                      Ladle chili over spaghetti and serve with toppings of your choice. Oyster crackers are served in a separate container on the side.


                      5 Replies
                      1. re: Davwud

                        For Cincinnati chili, you boil your ground beef in the water to get the correct texture.

                        1. re: jlawrence01

                          That's how America's Test Kitchen does it. I'll admit, mine was a bit lumpy. I figured I was just lazy about getting the lumps out.


                          1. re: Davwud

                            I could never figure out how they got the consistency so fine either ... until I called home. Seriously, it helps if you break the fresh (or well thawed) ground beef strand by strand into the boiling water. That is easy to do when you are making it at home but not so when cooking for 50.

                            1. re: jlawrence01

                              If you live in Cincinnati, talk to a butcher and tell him what you're trying to make. He'll know what to recommend. I've found different restaurants around town use different grinds of hamburger (fine or coarse). Also, boiling or long, slow simmering breaks down all and fat and other connective stuff in the beef, smoothing it out.

                        2. re: Davwud

                          I think that the recipe on my refrigerator magnet says to cook for 4-5 hours. That was enough to discourage me.

                        3. Chop some onions. Soften them in a skillet with a bit of oil. Add some eggs that you've beaten together and cook until nearly done. Add a can of Skyline Chili, some cheese, and warm. Serve with hot sauce, if desired.

                          Add a side of goetta and some German beer and you've got a Cincinnati breakfast!

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: vogelap

                            My brother-in-law smokes a cigar with his morning coffee. That's what I think of when I hear about eating Skyline before noon.

                            1. re: johnbycz

                              Some independent Cincinnati Chili places that serve breakfast offer a chili omelet as an option. I have had it at a couple of places, and it really isn't as bad as it sounds.

                              I believe the last place I tried one was at Park Chili in Northside.

                              Onions, cheese, and hot sauce are a must!!