I love chili. It’s one of the most versatile recipes that can go really far, not just for budget, but also in terms of repurposing. I really enjoy making a big pot of chili in advanced, letting it sit and mellow out over a couple days in the fridge and by that time, think of another way to use it.
So it can go a couple ways – you make this mammoth chili, eat it for a couple days and get sick of it so you throw a batch in the freezer, or, god forbid, throw it out. Please don’t do that! You can do so much with chili. Throw a bit of it on a hot dog, substitute it for tomato sauce in a lasagna, mix it in with your mac ‘n cheese, or perhaps throw a spin on a shepherd’s pie! The options are practically endless. My new favourite way of utilizing leftover chili would be to turn it into a shortcut Cincinnati chili.
I had taught a chili-making workshop in my office not too long ago where we did exactly this. Made a huge pot of chili in my InstantPot and make all sorts of applications with it. Needless to say, it was my first time constructing a Cincinnati chili and I have to say it was a hit! Not to mention the pot was completely bone dry by the time we reached the end of the workshop so yes, I considered it a big win.
Now, what exactly is Cincinnati chili? It consists of spaghetti, topped with a meaty chili, and topped with raw chopped onions and a mountain of freshly-grated mild cheddar cheese. It kind of reminds me of a chili cheese dog, which I love and takes me back down memory lane when I had my first chili cheese dog at Nathan’s in New York City. Love.
This recipe is super easy to make, especially when trying to use up that last bit of leftover chili, as what I did in my case. Traditional Cincinnati spaghetti go a number of ways, depending on what you want to add onto to it – here are a few pointers:
2-way: spaghetti, chili
3-way: spaghetti, chili, cheese
3-way: spaghetti, chili, cheese, onions
4-way: spaghetti, chili, cheese, onions
5-way: spaghetti, chili, cheese, onions, beans
Traditionally (from what I’ve read), you may additionally add some oyster crackers and hot sauce on top of the already sky-high mix. It definitely inspires me to try the real thing if I ever find myself in Cincinnati!
SHORTCUT CINCINNATI CHILI – serves 2
4 cups leftover chili
½ (375g) pkg spaghetti
½ cup pasta water
¼ yellow onion, diced
1 cup mild cheddar cheese, grated
hot sauce (optional)
Prepare the pasta according to packaged directions. Save about ½ cup of the salted pasta water. Drain the pasta and set aside.
Heat up your leftover chili and add the pasta water until hot. This will help the sauce stick to the pasta.
Using tongs, place the spaghetti into two individual bowls. Spoon a ladleful of chili over the spaghetti. Scatter with diced onions and top with cheese. Add hot sauce to taste if desired.