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Renee Paquette gained fame as a World Wrestling Entertainment commentator, a role she had for more than eight years, but now she's getting lots of attention for her cooking chops. This chili recipe is from her debut cookbook, Messy In The Kitchen

"Here's the thing: If you've never had Cincinnati chili, go ahead and throw all of your ideas about chili out the door. When you're married to a man from The 'Nati, you must accept this into your life. In Cincinnati, there's the age-old debate about which you prefer—Skyline or Gold Star Chili. Personally, I'm Skyline all day, baby!! So, I wanted to try and make my own to curb those Midwest cravings. I've added a little more kick to it. This chili is far more liquidy than what you're used to. No big meat chunks. No beans. And there's cinnamon and chocolate in it. It's an acquired taste, but trust me, it's freaking delicious." —Renee

Pro Tip from Renee: "The key here is to literally just combine all the ingredients in a large heavy pot, simmer and stir until desired consistency. Easy-peasy. It takes about 2 to 2 ½ hours. WORTH IT! While it simmers, you sip." 

For more chili inspiration from Rach, check out her Cincinnati Spaghetti and Cincinnati Sloppy Sliders


  • 6 cups water
  • 2 pounds ground beef (I've made this with bison!)
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 cup tomato sauce
  • 3 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 ½ teaspoons cumin
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon allspice
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 1 ounce unsweetened chocolate (If it comes in a bar with breakable cubes, just break the cubes into their ¼ ounce individual cubes–4 of them–and toss them in the mixture; no need to grate it up. It'll melt.)


Serves: 6 to 8


Bring the water to a boil, add in your ground beef, and begin to break up the meat; this is what the texture of the Cinci chili is all about. The meat gets thin and broken up. Add all of the other ingredients. No need to soften the onion or garlic, just drop everything in, bring it back to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for about 2 hours with a lid half on. You don't want the lid on all the way or else the steam won't release, the liquid won't reduce, and it'll be simmering for days. Keep an eye on your chili and stir occasionally. Once everything is beautifully combined and a quarter of the liquid has reduced, you should be in pretty good business. Now you're ready to decide which way you want to enjoy this pot of spicy chili goodness.

Excerpted from Messy in the Kitchen by Renee Paquette. Copyright © 2021 by Renee Paquette. Used with permission by Permuted Press. All rights reserved.