Hello again, Wide Open Spaces readers, it is I, Celby, your resident food-monger bringing you another look inside my kitchen and the tasty food that comes out of it.
What’s new, world? Besides being 2014, the majority of us have just wrapped up another (hopefully successful) deer season. If you’re still able to hunt in your area, more power to you, but this venison chili recipe is for the folks with deer in their freezers and dinner-time fast approaching.
Before we begin, let’s just put it out there – two equally delicious types of chili exist on this Earth.
1. No Beans Chili – a mainstay on most Texas menus is chili without beans. Why no beans? Because Texans don’t like to bother eating around their meat. No, but really, chili comes from the phrase chili con carne, which is Spanish for chili with meat. In addition to that, Traditional Red Chili is defined by the International Chili Society as any kind of meat or combination of meats, cooked with red chili peppers, various spices and other ingredients, with the exception of BEANS and PASTA which are strictly forbidden. Well, that doesn’t leave a lot of wiggle room, does it? I digress…
2. Chili with Beans – I’m a God-fearing American raised in Texas, but you’ll still find beans in my chili. There’s really only an argument AGAINST having beans in chili, whereas most people see no problem being FOR more tasty bites in their meal. Chili has been considered a ‘poor man’s food’, so the inclusion of beans really makes more sense than making it without. Regardless, as long as your chili contains a variety of peppers, we’re going to get a long just fine.
With that being said, let’s get into the world’s best venison chili recipe.
Five Alarm Venison Chili with Cilantro, Cheddar Cheese and Sour Cream
Don’t let the ‘five alarm’ scare you – it’s how I like to describe the ingredients of the chili while still conveying that yes, it’s a little bit spicy.
This chili focuses on the unique blend of flavors you can achieve from using multiple varieties of chilies that are available at your local grocer. My favorite toppings (cilantro, cheddar, and sour cream) are but a mere suggestion, although the cilantro really sets off the underlying herbaceous-ness of the dish.
- ~2.5lbs ground venison with fat added (ideally you want about 18-20% fat)
- .5lbs ground beef, 83/17 or 80/20
- 3 Tbs rendered bacon fat, or canola oil
- 2 green bell peppers, diced
- 2 poblano peppers, diced
- 3 jalapeno peppers, diced
- 3 serrano peppers, minced
- 2-3 habanero peppers, minced (depending on desired heat level)
- 2 yellow onions, diced
- 5 cloves garlic, minced or smashed
- 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes
- 16 oz can of diced tomatoes
- 26 oz can of Ranch Style beans, or substitute regular pinto beans
- 2 16 oz cans of black beans, drained
- 1 can tomato paste
- 1 bottle dark ale / beer
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp ground black pepper
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- 2 – 3 tsp dark chili powder (depending on desired flavor)
- Freshly chopped cilantro, sour cream, and grated cheddar for garnish
Step 1. Prepare your ingredients. Not pictured: beer and bacon fat.
Step 2. Get out your bacon fat, a large stock pot, and onions. Heat your stockpot on medium, add bacon fat.
Step 3. Dice your onions. If you tear up like I do when chopping onions, chew a piece of gum. Sometimes it helps. Anyway, check your bacon fat. It should be nice and warm by the time you’re done with the onions.
Step 4. Add onions to bacon fat in stock pot and begin to sweat them. You’ll want the flesh to be translucent. This should take anywhere from 5 – 8 minutes, stirring intermittently. Reduce heat to medium-low after first 2 – 3 minutes.
Step 5. While onions are sweating, time to get choppin’ and dicin’. Wash and remove any stickers from all of your peppers, then begin the cleaning process by cutting off the tops of each pepper.
Step 6. Once all of the tops are cut off, halve the peppers length-wise, then cut into strips.
Step 7. Once all of your peppers have been cut into strips, organize the strips in your fist, lay them on the cutting board, and then dice the strips into uniform pieces. Check your onions to make sure they aren’t burning.
Step 8. Okay, that was a lot of work, but good news – the hard part is over! Collect your peppers, and, if your onions are ready, add them to the pot.
Step 10. As you stir in peppers, raise heat back up to medium. Let the peppers incorporate with the onions, cooking for about 5 – 7 minutes. Once peppers have reduced in size, add your ground beef and venison.
Step 11. As you’re adding your meat, make sure to break apart the large chunks with your spoon in order for the meat to brown correctly.
Step 12. Time to get some flavor up in here. If you don’t own a garlic press, not only do I encourage you to get one, I BEG YOU. Mincing fresh garlic is my least favorite part of cooking, and flattening it out just doesn’t do. A press will squeeze out all of the garlic-y goodness you need, and saves you from those darn sticky fingers that always happen after using a knife. Okay, back to the recipe. Take your garlic cloves and add them to the browned meat/pepper/onion mix. Stir for 1 – 2 minutes until fragrant.
Step 13. Get out the can opener, it’s time to open up those beans and tomatoes. No special stuff here, just dump it all in and make sure to scrape the inside of the cans (especially the paste) for any leftovers. Stir all of that goodness together.
Step 14. Once you’ve got all of the cans emptied, crack open a beer. No, it’s not for you! Pour it into the pot.
Step 15. We’re getting close! Time for some simmerin’. I let my chili simmer for 1 – 1.5 hours, just depending on how the thickness is looking. DO NOT add your seasonings before it simmers. Save those delicious granules for last .
Step 16. Alright, it’s time for that punch of flavor at the end! Add your salt, pepper, paprika, cumin and chili powder.
Step 17. Stir, and start getting your garnish ready. I rough chop my cilantro just enough to make it not leafy when you get a bite.
Step 18. Could it be? Yes, it’s that time! Get out a ladle and your favorite chili bowl – it’s time to load’er up.
Step 19. I add my garnishes in the following order: shredded cheese, sour cream, cilantro, dash of chili powder/cayenne. Feel free to experiment.
Step 20. Time to eat! Serve with an ice-cold brew or a tall glass of iced tea and you’re looking at the best venison chili you’ll ever see. I enjoyed my bowl out back by the fire on a chilly day. Nothing better.
As always, thanks for humoring me with your viewership. I hope that my recipes not only excite your eyes but your tastebuds. Until next time…
Check out our other original wild game recipes:
Not a fan of this chili recipe? Fear not, we’ve got more that may be right up your alley:
Not feeling chili anymore? Check out our other venison recipe roundups for inspiration:
What’s your favorite chili recipe? Does mine look anything like yours? Share your thoughts in the comments below.