Have you ever wondered how to make Cincinnati Skyline chili, only to up scratching your head because, even if you got the flavor right, you just couldn’t get that grainy texture? Join the club!
Here in the south, we just use plain ol’ ground beef when we’re making chili. Or, if we’re feeling fancy (or creative), we’ll use chunks of seared stew beef. I’ve even made it with a mixture of seared beef and pork. That’s one of my favorite things about chili: There are so many ways to make it.
Or so I thought. But then I married a midwesterner and heard all about Cincinnati Skyline chili. My husband would travel up north on business and get hooked on it all over again. I think it made him homesick! So I set out to surprise him with homemade Cincinnati chili.
Cincinnati chili has a long ingredient list, plus a few variations that differ by an ingredient or two. (Believe me, I tried several of them!) One night I thought I had nailed it, but, although my husband was gracious, I could tell I still hadn’t hit the mark. When I asked what was wrong, he said, “The taste is right on the money, but the texture isn’t right. It’s supposed to be grainier.”
So I got back online and did another round of research on how to make Cincinnati Skyline chili, searching for the step where they broke up the ground beef into smithereens.
But what I found was something else entirely.
Here’s the secret the recipes don’t tell you about how to make Cincinnati Skyline chili:
You don’t brown the ground beef. You boil it.
I know that sounds weird, but I promise that’s the secret to authentic Cincinnati chili.
I felt like I had stumbled across the Holy Grail, and my husband finally had the chili of his dreams. But I don’t think I’ve made it since, because now we can just buy Cincinnati Skyline chili in cans at the grocery store or through Amazon. And I just don’t love making recipes where I can’t experiment a little. It’s kind of like trying to make meatloaf just like your husband’s mama did.
One more thing…
The other thing important to know is that most locals don’t just eat it out of a bowl. They eat it over pasta, as a topping for hot dogs, etc. With shredded cheese on top, and only the finely shredded cheese (believe me, I’ve been educated) will do.
So whether you want to try this recipe yourself or grab a few cans at the grocery store, don’t forget the accompaniments. And enjoy!