Thursday, November 21, 2013

Venison Chili



When you are carnivorous as I am, there is significant amount of joy in the acquaintance of a hunter. It means at some point, between bow and the following rifle hunting season, I will receive some venison [deer]. I look forward to venison because it is such a healthy red meat! It doesn’t get any more free and organic than this.
I didn’t expect to have deer for a few more weeks, I don’t know many bow hunters and rifle season doesn’t open until this weekend. I was over joyed when my Father stopped by to bring me a couple of pounds of venison a friend had given him, which includes a backstrap! I just don’t even know what I am going to do with that, so many delectable options. I am aware of some oddballs out there that don’t like deer, they claim its too “gamey” and usually fall into the group of people that turn their noses up to rabbit and squirrel. If they fall into the vegetarian or vegan category, they are exempt from my opinion because meat isn’t a part of their diet anyway. But if you’re a meat eater, how could have not like some of the most delicious and flavorful meats out there? I suppose I am weird, I like bison tongue and I’m dying to try the kangaroo meat I found at Sprouts Market. 
When I received the meat, I immediately knew I would be making chili with some of this deer! It’s been wonderfully cool outside and this was just what that nippiness needed to warm me up. Granted, I am a cold weather lover, I love to be bundled up! 
Chili is a wonderful meal that you really can’t fail unless you just flat out burn it [I did that once, don’t be embarrassed]. It’s one of those “the sky is the limit” dishes that everyone has their own variation of. Some people use pinto beans, others use black beans. Some people use a form of alcohol to add flavor, red wine or beer for example. It can just be straight tomato, beans and meat or you can fill it with a wide variety of vegetables. You can even drop the meat and use a substitute for the cheese to make it vegetarian or vegan. 
This weeks version is simple for me, I didn’t want to make a store trip and had everything I needed for a simple chili. I will admit I am a huge fan of putting a bottle of beer into my chili, flavor heaven, but I didn’t have any in home. Also, take note that chili can be quite healthy as long as you don’t fill it with a bunch of fatty or high calorie additives. Beer and wine are those high calorie additives, as well as topping it with cheese and sour cream. 
My chili generally begins the night before, I sort, clean and soak my pinto beans. The pinto beans go into the crock pot the next morning with a jalapeno and cayenne pepper. They’ll be tender by time I am ready to cook my chili.
When it’s chili making time, I begin with an onion and a clove or two of garlic. I prefer red onions for their sweetness or yellow… I just hate white onions. Chop that onion and garlic up and toss in into the bottom of a large stock pot with some olive oil. Let them cook until the onions become slightly translucent. Oh! And if you’re a heat seeker, add a few jalapenos in the there.
Next up is the tomatoes, sigh. There is this thing I have about store bought “fresh” tomatoes, they suck. Used canned tomatoes unless A. You have a garden full of your own or B. Have access to a local farmers market/farm fresh tomatoes. The reality right now is that tomato season is OVER, anything “fresh” right now probably comes from a hot house where they were picked long before they were ripe. I pick up my canned tomatoes at Sprouts Market, they offer organic canned tomatoes. Open up a can of whole peeled tomatoes and add them in with the onion and garlic, drop the heat to medium and let them simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
In a separate pan, brown your meat [if you’re using meat], drain if needed. Venison is not a fatty meat, it’s very lean, so you shouldn’t have anything to drain. 
Time to start adding flavor. Again, it’s completely up to you, I’m a paprika lover, so that goes in there. You need some cayenne pepper and a little bit a chili powder. I like to add a little bit of basil and if either the onion or garlic isn’t enough, I add onion/garlic granules in for flavor. Once you have the flavor you desire, toss in that meat.
Remember those pinto beans I made? Time for them to go in, I probably add 2-3 cups, but it just depends on if you want more beans or less beans. Add in any extra vegetables you want at this point.
This is the point that I add in my beer, if I’m doing that, and let it simmer for a good 30 minutes. The alcohol cooks out and you’re left with flavor. If you’re not a beer drinker but want to try it this way, check a local liquor store for single bottles. I suggest a Shiner Bock, it’s a dark lager. Dark lager and chili just go hand in hand for me. I would not suggest using a cheap beer, Bud, coors, etc. They don’t have the flavor.
If you’re passing the beer, then you just want to let things simmer for a good 30-40 minutes. Be sure to taste test it and see if you need to add anything extra. I like my chili thick, so if it seems too soupy, I will add a can or two of tomato sauce and a can of tomato paste. If you do, be sure to check your seasoning.
So how do you eat chili? Serve as is with a sprinkling of cheese. Top it with a dollop of sour cream and chives. With a side of corn bread. I never cease to love tossing it on top of some corn chips with a little cheddar cheese. Talk about the not healthy way to serve it, but it’s comforting and crunchy.




Venison Chili
1 Pound Venison [You can sub any meat or omit the meat altogether]
1 Large Onion
2 Cloves Garlic
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 Large Can Whole Peeled Tomatoes
Paprika
Cayenne Pepper
Chili Powder
3 Cups Pinto Beans [cooked]
Onion Granules
Garlic Granules
Basil
Tomato Sauce
Tomato Paste
Jalapeno
1 Bottle Beer [Shiner Bock]
Extra Veggies 
  1. Toss chopped onion, garlic and jalapeno into a large stock pan with olive oil, cook until onion is slightly translucent, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add tomatoes and smash them down with a spoon. Lower your heat to medium and allow to simmer for about 20 minutes. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking. Season to taste with paprika, cayenne, chili powder, basil and granules
  3. In a separate pan, brown meat and drain off extra drippings. Add into the large pot, along with the pinto beans. Check your flavor and season if needed. Add any extra vegetables you desire.
  4. Pour in one bottle of beer, tomato sauce and paste, let simmer. Continue to check flavor and simmer at least 30 minutes or until you get the thickness you desire. If it’s too soupy, just let it simmer a little longer.
  5. Serve warm with cheddar cheese on top!

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