Faith Conversations Recipe: “Skyline” Chili

I’m a guest on this week’s Faith Conversations podcast. Host (and conversationalist extraordinaire) Anita Lustrea and I talked about a bit about Born To Wander, and then we spent some time talking the way we pass on family stories through food. I referenced one of my family’s traditions, what we call “Skyline” Chili. It doesn’t taste exactly like the delicious stuff served at the Cincinnati-based chain of chili parlors, but it comes sort of close. My version, like the original, is a meat-based sauce that’s a hybrid of Greek and Mexican flavors. The recipe sounds a little strange, as the ground beef is not browned, but simmered in water, but that’s how the recipe really works. I got this recipe from a coworker at Harper College nearly 40 years ago, and it has been a family favorite ever since. My sons now make their own version, and my grandsons frequently request this as a meal when they’re with us.

“Skyline” Chili

Combine in soup kettle:

  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 1 quart water
  • 1 square unsweetened chocolate
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 6 oz. can tomato paste
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 2-4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1-2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • cayenne, to taste
  • salt, to taste   

Simmer over low heat for 2 hours or so, skimming off fat during the first half of cooking. Serve it:

– Two way – over spaghetti

– Three way – over spaghetti topped with grated cheddar cheese (This is how we usually eat it.)

– Four way – over spaghetti, topped with pinto beans and grated cheese

– Five way – over spaghetti, topped with cheese, beans, and chopped onions


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