Venison Chili: Champion the Hunt with the Ultimate Comfort Food
Deer season is over and, if you’re lucky, there is a good bit of venison stowed in the freezer. While some hunters supplement their diets with deer meat, others largely feed their family with it year-round. Then there is that other contingent that flat-out doesn’t like it – and that’s okay.
My family has always liked venison. And I’m glad because my hunting situation in Texas affords me an endless supply. So much so that I find myself annually shooting and processing deer for non-hunting friends. I love to cook it, trying a variety of recipes from the simple to the creative. In the spirit of the former, there’s nothing better than venison chili.
Why? For one, it’s one of the ultimate comfort foods around. Secondly, its lean texture and unique flavor is ideal for any variety of chili. Finally, by simmering in a variety of spices, it yields a less-gamey flavor than other cooking methods – and for that reason can even appeal to wild game-skittish audiences.
From culinary masterpieces to simple concoctions like Uncle Joe’s famous deer camp chili, a bowl of venison red is a rite of passage. Anyone can make chili, right? Sure, and it may seem odd to write an article about arguably the most common venison-based meal around. Well, I submit that there is a reason it’s so common. Simply put, it’s fantastic in its simplicity.
While cooler temperatures abound, pull a couple of pounds out of the freezer and get after it. Below is a good, no-nonsense recipe sure to please. Prepare it, gather with friends, and celebrate the hunt – whether around the kitchen table or hunting campfire pit.
- 2 lbs. ground venison
- 5-6 ounces pork chorizo
- 2 tbsp. chili powder
- 1 tsp. red pepper flakes
- 2 tsp. teaspoon dried Mexican oregano
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- 2 tablespoons cumin seeds
- 8 ounces bacon
- 2 medium red onions, chopped
- 2 teaspoons paprika
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- ½ teaspoon dried thyme leaves
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 4 large garlic cloves, minced
- 2 cans diced tomatoes
- 1 green pepper (diced)
- 2 cups beef broth
- Blend or crush cumin seeds and red pepper flakes.
- Dice both onions and pepper.
- Mince garlic (or use pre-minced equivalent from a jar).
- Thoroughly mix all dry spices and seasonings in a bowl.
- Set a deep pot to medium heat and cook the bacon until crisp. Set bacon aside on paper towel.
- Increase the heat to high and add chorizo, diced onion and bell pepper. Stir and cook for 5 minutes or until the chorizo is fully cooked.
- Add the venison, mixing, and intermittently coating it with one-third of the seasoning bowl.
- Add the broth, diced tomatoes, and tomato sauce.
- Add crumbled bacon and most of the remaining seasoning mixture from the bowl.
- Partially cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Add water and seasoning as necessary for desired consistency and flavor.
Based in Texas, Jerald Kopp is President of 1st Light Hunting Journal. His articles cover a variety of topics about hunting and the outdoor lifestyle. Jerald is an avid outdoorsman with deer hunting and whitetails being by far his greatest passion. He was introduced to hunting and fishing at an early age and has been enjoying it for 40+ years. In 2005, he established the Empowerment Outfitter Network (EON) – a faith-based non-profit organization that provides hunting opportunities for disabled and terminally-ill children and youth. When not hunting, he spends his time traveling and enjoying life with Amy, his wife of over 30 years. Jerald and Amy have two adult daughters and a son-in-law.