Winter Comfort Food: Venison Chili

Winter Comfort Food Mini-series

          When the weather is cold and not so inviting, there is nothing better than curling up on the couch with a movie, a blanket, and some good old fashioned comfort food. There are so many different recipes to choose from that I couldn’t just write about one. This is just part one in the miniseries of yumminess.

            Ever since I was a little kid, I always loved venison chili (deer chili). Many times, my mom would come home to her kitchen a mess. My dad had gone hunting that morning and now we were all hard at work putting the meat away and cooking some chili. The house would smell delicious. My parents would pick a movie and we would all sit around the TV with our bowls and have family time.

            Never making it the same way twice, it’s hard to nail down a recipe. When I started making deer chili, or any new recipe, my first stop is always the Internet.  From there I pick one or two basic recipes, that I am wanting to make, then I adapt it to my taste, using only the freshest of whole food ingredients. I encourage everyone to always experiment with your food. You never know what kind of deliciousness you can create.  Deer meat is so low in fat that sometimes it can be hard to cook with but when you make it in a chili or soup it is quite easy.

Here is western chuckwagon recipe created by my great grandma.  

You will need the following ingredients:

  • 1 (16-ounce) can chopped tomatoes
  • 1 cup beef stock
  • Salt and pepper
  • 4 strips bacon, diced
  • 2 ½ lbs. leg or shoulder of venison cut into ½ inch cubes (ground venison is also good)
  • 1 cup chopped onions
  • 1 cup chopped green bell peppers
  • 2 garlic gloves, crushed
  • 1 cup Cabernet Sauvignon or other dry, red wine. (this ingredient is my own addition)
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Next for the cooking! You will need a large cast iron Dutch oven. Cook the bacon until the fat is rendered. About 4 to 6 minutes. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and put onto a paper-lined plate so that all the grease drains. Now, add the deer meat to the hot oil in the pan and brown. If needed add a little olive oil, as the venison is quite dry. You might need to cook them in batches. Remove from pan and set to the side.

 In the pan, add the onions, bell peppers and garlic. Sautee over medium-low heat until tender. Stir in the tomato paste and wine. You want to bring the mixture to a boil. Once that happens, mix in the dry spices, chopped tomatoes, and the beef stock. Add salt and pepper to your liking.

Simmer for 35-45 minutes, uncovered or until sauce is very thick. Almost done…add the venison back to the pot and cook while stirring for 3 to 4 minutes. Do a taste test and serve with grated cheese!

All you need now is a feel-good movie! It is chili time!

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