It is SO cold here today! I have been getting the hint from Silent Bob, my partner in crime, to make a warm something for supper. You see, it's wood cutting season here in the Northeast. Once the snow is on the ground, it's a lot easier to bring the wood out of the woods, if you've a small woodlot to manage. So, Silent Bob has been cutting and stacking wood, but now it's time to load it on a sled and haul it out of the woods and up to the woodpile. This will be next winter's wood ... an investment in more snug winters at the grey cottage. He definitely deserves a big pot of 'warm something', as he puts it!
After cruising the blogs and touching base with Foodbuzz, I am seeing so many chili posts that I caved to offering another version. We make chili with venison in the winter. After hunting season, the freezer is stocked with tenderloins, steaks, ground sausages, and an occasional roast. Today, I'm using loose sweet venison sausage to make a big pot of chili. I have this nice flameware pot that will keep it warm after I've simmered it a bit. A big bowl of steaming jasmine rice and bottles of beer to cool the palate ... and a Christmas movie. We plan to hang out on the couch with the warm blankets and the Christmas tree lights for dinner and a movie! Tonight it's 'The Polar Express' which seems strangely á propos!
Flameware Venison Chili - printer friendly
This meat is exceedingly lean, so our butcher grinds some pork fat into the mix so that the moisture level is retained when you are browning it. It compromises some of the health benefits of eating venison, but makes for a more pleasing taste. Of course, ground beef can be exchanged in this recipe, if you don't care for venison or have no source! Nice strips of beef would also be excellent ( and more authentic).
My flameware pot can be used on the stovetop as well as in the oven, which makes it extremely versatile. This chili begins with the requisite onion, green pepper, minced garlic, and jalapeño sauté. Because the sides of the pot get really hot and stay that way, I scrape the vegetables up the edges just before they are translucent and add the minced venison sausage to the center of the pot for browning. The onions and peppers 'finish' as the meat browns.
The spices that go into my chili may seem a bit odd to you, but bear with me. I love molé sauces and hints of chocolate and cinnamon really do this chili a huge flavor favor! Try it! Really! I stir the spices into the meat and green pepper/onion sauté and let them 'fry' a bit to release their flavors and aromas.
The beans are rinsed and drained before adding with the tomatoes and tomato paste. I like red beans and pinto beans. You can use whatever bean combination that you prefer! I also insist on using canned fire-roasted tomato chunks (Muir's Glen is my favored product). Any old tomato paste will do, as I only add a couple tablespoonsful.
Once you've added the tomatoes and beans, you just have to simmer it for a bit to get the heat really built up in the sauce and beans. Then I turn the heat off and cover the pot. I pop it in a warm oven ( 200° F) and I walk away for a good hour or two to let the spices work on the sauce and let things settle. Later, I steam a big bowl of jasmine rice and serve up chili along side it. I sometimes make a pan of cornbread or a big platter of baking powder biscuits for dunking in the sauce. Depends on the mood ... but today, it's just warm and buttery rice with plenty of salt and pepper.
Stay warm, wherever YOU are! And enjoy your chili!
The Spice Garden's
Flameware Pot Venison Chili
1 large onion, medium dice
½ large green pepper, medium dice
1 large clove garlic, minced
1 large jalapeño pepper, minced (keep the veins and seeds if you like spicy hot chili)
1½ lb. ground venison (I use the sweet sausage blend that our butcher makes for us)
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 – 28 oz. can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
2 tbsp. tomato paste
½ bottle lager beer
1 – 15 oz. can red beans, drained and rinsed
1 – 15 oz. can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. good quality cocoa
½ tsp. cinnamon
2 tbsp. chili powder (maybe more, depending on your taste)
Making the Chili:
1. Place the olive oil in the bottom of the Flameware and place it on a low stovetop setting. Bring the heat up gradually until the pot is hot to the touch.
2. Add the onions and green peppers and sauté until they are semi-transparent.
3. While the onions and peppers sauté, break the venison up with a fork.
4. Sweep the onions and peppers up the sides of the pot and add the venison to the center of the pot … sauté until browned and some of the juices have evaporated.
5. Add the spices and continue to sauté until the spices are aromatic.
6. Add the tomatoes, paste, and beer and stir to incorporate the paste.
7. Drain the beans and add them, stirring to incorporate.
8. Let the chili come to a soft bubble and then cover and turn the heat off.
9. Leave the chili for at least an hour to let the spices and sauce develop.
10. Taste and correct seasonings … some folk like a bit more chocolate or chili flavors … maybe salt and pepper … maybe a bit more beer to loosen the sauce.
11. Serve the chili with steamed jasmine rice or squares of warm cornbread and cold beers/lime slices.
Note: Of course, this chili can be made with ground beef or sliced beef. It can be made in conventional pans, also. No worries!