Cincinnati chili is often served on pasta, so I thought, why not put it inside pasta as a ravioli?!? If you have never had Cincinnati chili before, It’s a finely textured chili, almost like what you would find on a chili dog, but with a more complex and dark spice profile including cinnamon and allspice. It’s often served on pasta, and almost has the texture of a bolognese sauce.
The inspiration for this recipe
Whenever I visit a new area I get really obsessed with the regional food there, so you can imagine moving to Ohio has me thinking a ton about the local foods here. I have been really interested in Cincinnati chili for a long time, and since moving to Columbus I get it all the time. Putting it on top of pasta is really just another version of Bolognese in my opinion. I can hear the voices of many Italian people crying out in pain after reading that statement but that’s ok.
Anyways, one of my friends at the brewery I have been working at suggested the idea of Cincinnati chili ravioli and I got so excited I basically made it a few days later. It came out so good and I made plenty of extra chili so I could have the leftovers with spaghetti all week!
Make the Cincinnati chili
It’s extremely weird to me to make any chili by just tossing everything into a pot and letting it simmer. Normally I build flavors by sautéing things. But here we are. After a bunch of research, I realized that most recipes for Cincy chili just fill up a pot and turn it on. In the end I used a combo of three recipes, Simply Recipes, The Chunky Chef, and Culinary Hill.
But in my version, I used way less water than most recipes call for. This is so the chili would be solid when it cooled off in the fridge. This way, I could easily put it into the ravioli. This is a similar concept to soup dumplings where you make the broth with so much collagen that it cools to a solid.
Filling the Cincinnati Chili Ravioli
Roll out the pasta dough nice and thin, then brush it with some water. Place tablespoon sized mounds of chili and rhen put another sheet of pasta on top. Press out as much air as you can as you seal up the edges.
Use a ravioli cutter wheel to form the round ravioli and seal up the edges.
Nice large ravioli so that when you cut into them the chili oozes out.
Get the toppings ready
The cheese is always very specific when you get Cincinnati chili so I tried to recreate that by making very long thin shreds on my grater. I also diced up some onion because that is also common on Cincinnati Chili
Traditional Cincinnati chili toppings
When you order Cincinnati chili you can get is these different “ways”
- Two-Way – chili on top of spaghetti
- Three-Way – spaghetti, chili, and cheese
- Four-Way Onion – spaghetti, chili, cheese, and onion
- Four-Way Bean – spaghetti, chili, cheese, and beans
- Five-Way – spaghetti, chili, cheese, beans, and onion
If you wanted to add beans to this dish, that would also fall in the traditional list of toppings, but I skipped them.
Serving the Cincinnati Chili Ravioli
Boil the ravioli, then toss them in a frying pan with a little butter, garlic, and mustard. Toss to combine, then put them on a plate Pile it high with cheese and onion!
YES! These came out so good. So much cheese and onion on top. I tossed them in a sauce of butter, garlic, and a little mustard to pay homage to the fact that many people put this chili on hot dogs. You could barely taste the mustard but it balanced with everything perfectly.
Twists on this dish
I mentioned you could add beans to this and it would be good and still a traditional topping. If you want to go less traditional, you could add sour cream. Sour cream could also be good in the sauce instead of just dolloped on top. You could also add a few pickled jalapenos on top!
Cincinnati Chili Ravioli
- 1.5 pounds 80% lean ground beef
- 6 oz tomato paste
- 14 oz canned petite diced tomatoes
- 2 cups water
- 1 large onion minced
- 6 cloves garlic minced
- 1 habanero seeds removed, minced
- 3 tablespoons chili powder
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon allspice
- 1/2 teaspoon cloves
- 2 tablespoons worcestershire
- 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
- 1 ounce bittersweet chocolate
- 1 batch Fresh Pasta
- 1/4 cup butter
- 2 cloves garlic sliced thin
- 2 tablespoons dijon mustard
- diced onion
- cheddar cheese
- Mix all the chili ingredients except for the vinegar and chocolate in a pot. Bring to a simmer and cook 2 hours. Add in the vinegar and chocolate and cook another hour. Remove from heat and allow to cool overnight in the fridge. It should become fairly solid.
- Roll out the pasta to the third thinnest setting. Scoop about 2 tablespoons of chili into it and brush some water around the chili. Top with another piece of pasta and seal with your fingers trying to remove as much air as possible. Use a ravioli cutter to crimp and seal the edges. Repeat until you have as many raviolis as you want to make.
- Bring water to a boil in a pot. In a large pan, add the butter to melt over medium low heat. Add in the garlic and sauté for 1 minute. Add in the mustard and whisk to combine.
- Drop the ravioli into the boiling water and cook 3-5 minutes until the pasta is cooked. Strain and add directly to the frying pan. Toss to coat with the sauce.
- Serve and top with lots of onion and cheese.