Cincinnati Chili is basically a sweet, mild chili con carne traditionally served over spaghetti noodles – a combination that is both surprisingly and delicious. My lightened-up version, served over spaghetti squash, is (loosely) based on the recipe for the most famous variation – Skyline Chili.
The closest I’ve ever gotten to Cincinnati is watching WKRP as a kid, but it was love at first bite as far as their chili is concerned.
Cincinnati Chili (in my admittedly limited experience) is basically a mild chili con carne made with seasonings from the sweet side of the spice shelf: cinnamon, cloves, allspice and (sometimes) chocolate. It usually a little “saucier” than most chili, and traditionally served over spaghetti noodles. There are many well-known variations, most often associated with Cincinnati restaurants, including Empress Chili, Gold Star Chili, Dixie Chili, and the one I am most familiar with – Skyline Chili.
Usually made with ground beef, I’ve lightened my version up with ground chicken. I love to serve it over spaghetti squash, which lends an additional sweetness to the dish and offers a lovely presentation as well.
Skinny Cincinnati Chili with Spaghetti Squash
- 2 small spaghetti squashes Or just use spaghetti noodles - it's your call!
- 1 lb ground chicken or turkey I use Isernio Ground Chicken
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1 large onion chopped
- 2 cans stewed tomatoes Italian style (I use petite cut tomatoes with garlic & basil)
- 1 14- ounce can small red beans canned (I use seasoned piquintos)
- 2 teaspoons Worcestershire Sauce
- 2 Tbs brown sugar
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1/2 tsp allspice
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Brown ground chicken or turkey with onion and garlic. Add all the other ingredients. Simmer at least 1/2 an hour. (I usually make this in a slow cooker, on low for 4-6 hours.)
Vegetarian-friendly Chili option:: Simply replace the ground chicken with additional small red beans.
To Serve in Spaghetti Squash Boats:
Choose small spaghetti squashes. Each squash will make 2 boats.
Preheat the oven to 375°. Sprinkle squash with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place the cut side down on a parchment-lined baking sheet and roast for 25-35 minutes, or until tender.
Allow cooked squash to cool for about 10 minutes, and then use a fork to scrape out the insides and separate strands.
Replace threads in squash shells, and top with chili and Parmesan cheese.