A venison chili recipe

I got asked for my recipe for this on another list and decided it’d do double duty. Before I begin I need to note I’ve not made this in a while. First and foremost, my wife likes bean soup, not chili, and she likes it mild. Second, I’ve not had venison to hand in a long time. On the other hand it works with beef if you gotta.

First, the recipe on my card. Yes, really.

Chunk the meat from a shoulder and brown it.
Caramelize a mess of chopped onion, add some oil and flour to them and start a roux.
Bring back the venison plus some garlic and let the roux go dark.
Add some beer, various chilis to taste, some adobo, some cocoa powder, and maybe some other spices.
Cook over a low fire till it’s all thick and tender, then finish with some salt to bring the taste together.

Now that it’s out of the way, let’s do a bit of digging, shall we?

As I’ve mentioned before, I think historically chili was a poor man’s stew of tough meat, maybe some other veggies, and chilis to hide the taste. As a result of this opinion I tend to start there and stay fairly minimal.

For example, I like to use the shoulder of the venison. It’s often tough and full of connective tissue. Take it off the bone and cut it into roughly bitesize bits – call it 3/4 inch cubes. Don’t try and remove the connective tissue. Well, maybe the silverskin, but nothing else. Now take a moment to weigh it. For the rest of this expanded recipe, you want:
1/2 cup oil
1/4 cup flour
1 (or more, to taste) poblano, seeded and minced (for sweet)
1 (or more, to taste) habanero, seeded and minced (for heat)
1 bottle of beer (my preference is a dark porter)
Per 2 pounds of venison (approximate)
– one medium onion, chopped
– two cloves garlic, chopped (not minced)
– one bottle of beer
– one chipotle, chopped
– one tablespoon adobo sauce
– one teaspoon cocoa powder (can increase to tablespoon, to taste)

Heat a tablespoon of oil in a kettle, brown and set aside venison.
Add and heat about 2 tablespoons of oil, stir in the onions, cook till caramelized.
Add the rest of the oil and the flour, stir to form a roux among the onions, and cook till lightly browned.
Return the venison, add the garlic, and continue cooking and stirring till the roux is chocolate brown. Stir in the cocoa powder followed immediately by one bottle of beer. Add all the rest of the ingredients (beer, chipotle, habanero, poblano, adobo), bring to boil, and return to simmer. Cover. Cook over low heat for approximately 2 hours till meat is tender and broth is thick. Stir every 15-20 minutes to prevent sticking and burning.
Add salt to taste to bring the flavors together, and serve.

Now it’s fair to tell you that I never exactly follow what I just wrote. I’ll throw in some thyme and/or bay and/or a clove or two and/or… whatever seems ‘right’ at that instant. I may add another roux at the end if I don’t think it’s thick enough. Sometimes I’ll add some broth – chicken or beef, or venison if I’ve made some from the shanks or tail.

But what I’ve listed is my starting point. Feel free to take your own adventure from it.


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