Cincinnatti Chili

We no longer buy beef since we have a steady supply of venison coming in from my parents. They aren’t hunters and neither are we, but they have friends who hunt but don’t like to eat what they catch.  So, it works out nicely for us all.

I realize some people have an issue eating Bambi, or meat for that matter. So, if that’s the case use your favorite ground meat or veggies in place of the ground venison.  The foundation for this particular chili is the Cincinnati style. That means there is chocolate and spices more typical of a mole sauce. It’s one of my favorites to make because the depth of flavor is so good and you can tailor the level of heat to your own liking.


Olive oil (for sauteeing)

1/2 cup chopped onion

2 lbs ground venison meat

3-4 Tablespoons (more if you like it hot) ground chipotle pepper powder (or regular chili powder)

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or to taste)

1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground cumin

3 fresh (or 1 dry) bay leaves

1 ounce dark (darkest possible, I used 80%) chocolate bar (or unsweetened cocoa powder works nicely)

12-14 ounces Rogue Chocolate Stout (or other chocolate stout beer)

1- 15 ounce can fire roasted crushed tomatoes

1 small jar of your favorite salsa

2 Tablespoons cider vinegar

1 can of beans (kidney, pinto, black or a combination)

Suggested Garnishes:

Fresh chopped cilantro

Creme Fraiche

Grated Cheddar Cheese

Avocado Slices

Chopped Raw Onion


1.   Heat oil in a large saucepan or dutch oven over medium heat.  Add onion and cook, stirring often, until translucent or about 6 mintues.

2.  Add ground meat, in batches, if necessary and cook, breaking up with a spoon until all the meat is browned.

3.  Add chili powder, cinnamon, cumin, allspice, cloves, bay leaves, red pepper, chocolate, beer, tomatoes, salsa and cider vinegar.  Stir to mix well and bring to a boil.

4. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer 1-1/2 hours, stirring occasionally.

5. Remove the bay leaves and serve as discussed below.

The flavors will continue to build, so this chili improves each day.

Serving Suggestions:

1. Garnish with fresh cilantro, a dollop of creme fraiche, grated cheddar cheese and chopped raw onion over cheesy cornbread.

2. Garnish with fresh cilantro, grated cheddar cheese, chopped raw onion over spaghetti.

3. Garnish with fresh cilantro, grated cheddar cheese, sliced avocado, creme fraiche over fried polenta.

There are many ways to eat this chili and it’s also good by itself but I would encourage you to try it one of the ways mentioned above.

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