It’s no surprise to any family cook that trying to please everyone at the table is tough, especially when you’re dealing with kids.

In this column we’ve covered the “pair new foods with familiar foods” territory before, and it’s a concept that works well for families (see the earlier recipe for adding roasted butternut squash to your favorite mac-and-cheese recipe). Cincinnati Chili is another recent discovery for me along this same line.

In my kitchen, only one of my children will eat chili. It doesn’t matter if it’s the middle of winter or halftime of the Super Bowl, two of my kids are going to pass on this iconic American dish. So what’s a red-blooded American cook to do when presented with this kind of challenge? In southern Ohio, cooks discovered the answer. They simply serve chili over pasta. Genius! Who can resist anything served over pasta? Not me. And not my kids, either.

Chili is a hot topic among Cincinnatians, judging by an online peek at the many recipes. The comments that follow a recipe where the meat is browned before it’s added to the rest of the ingredients? Scathing. And heaven forbid you add beans! At least not to the chili itself.

The beauty of this dish is that it can be served to the diner’s taste. If you want a bowl of chili on its own, that’s called One-Way. Chili over spaghetti is Two-Way. Chili over spaghetti with beans is Three-Way. Chili over spaghetti with beans and cheese is Four-Way. Add onions to that and you have Five-Way.

Whew! Diner waitresses all over that city must be constantly out of breath trying to explain the menu. Although my kids still don’t agree on which “way” they like it, they all like it over pasta. And it’s a hit with me, too, since all I have to do is dump everything into the slow cooker in the morning and walk away.


Meredith Deeds of Edina is the author of “Everyday to Entertaining” and “The Big Book of Appetizers.” Reach her at Follow her on Twitter @meredithdeeds.