Venison Chili

The secret to good chili is the right mix of chiles! (who knew?)

Forget chili powder – the trick is using a mix of dried chiles, choosing from 3 or 4 types. Experimenting with different combinations to see what you really like is fun, and whatever you settle on can be your own secret recipe!

The chiles from the “mild” list bring great flavor but not much heat. A can of “chipotles in adobo” adds some heat (and super flavor) — but for real heat include some of the hotter chiles in the mix. Just don’t go crazy unless you’re certain your audience wants it. You can add heat at the table with hot sauce, but you can’t take any out.

To find a variety of dried chiles you may need a specialty grocer, or fire up the intarwebs. Few grocery stores carry more than one or two types — and you should check the expiration date. No matter where you get them, rinse them well before processing.

Here is a list of dried chilis, sorted roughly by heat level — with links to buy them online. This is not a sponsored product placement, just a convenience. I have no relationship with these sources and don’t vouch for them. I buy my peppers at a local Hispanic specialty market (also a great place to get your chorizo!)
Print Recipe
Venison Chili Yum
Course Main Dish
Cuisine American, Mexican
Course Main Dish
Cuisine American, Mexican
  1. If using dry beans (not canned) soak beans in water or stock overnight. For same-day, pour boiling water over beans and soak for 4 hours, changing the water after 2 hours.
  2. Rinse the chilis to clean. Break up and seed the chiles (wear gloves if they're hot) Cover with boiling water and let stand an hour.
  3. Dice the meat into roughly half inch cubes (smaller than stew meat).
  4. Add half the salt to the venison and mix.
  5. Use a blender, immersion blender or food processor to puree rehydrated peppers and chipotles in adobo to the consistency of gravy, adding the coffee and enough of the pepper soaking water to achieve that consistency.
  6. Fry chorizo over medium heat until browned. Set aside.
  7. Brown venison quickly over high heat and set aside. Do batches small enough not to crowd the pan. watch carefully but don't stir constantly — let some good browning happen.
  8. Reduce heat to medium and add onion to the pot. Cook 5 minutes, stirring often. Add garlic and cook 1 minute.
  9. Return chorizo and venison to the pot.
  10. If you soaked dry beans, drain and add them now. If canned, hold off.
  11. Stir in paprika, cumin, coriander, chipotle powder and remaining salt.
  12. Add chile puree, tomato paste and half the diced tomatoes. Stir to combine well.
  13. Add the molasses and stock and mix. Should be fairly thin. Simmer slowly, partially covered with lid. Stir occasionally. Cook until reduced to a thick consistency — about 3 hours.
  14. If using canned beans, rinse and add them now.
  15. Add the remaining half of the diced tomatoes and stir. Simmer 10 more minutes.
Recipe Notes

For uses where the chili is an ingredient rather than the main dish (like chili dogs or omelets) consider using ground instead of diced meat. Maybe even omitting the beans.

Some folks (::cough:: Texans ::cough::) feel beans are an affront to proper chili. I enjoy it both ways.

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