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. Keep notes, and try different mixes to see what you really like. You can’t go wrong though.

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 — or if you’re pulling a frat prank.

To find a variety of dried chiles you may need a specialty grocer, or fire up the intarwebs. Some mainstream grocery stores carry only one or two types — and you should check the expiration date.

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 overnight. For same-day, pour boiling water over beans and soak for 4 hours, changing the water after 2 hours.
  2. Break up and seed the chiles (wear gloves if they're hot chiles) Cover with boiling water and let stand an hour.
  3. Dice the venison or beef 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 soaking water to achieve that consistency.
  6. Fry chorizo over medium heat until browned and 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. Add paprika, cumin, coriander, chipotle powder and remaining salt one at a time, stirring to combine each.
  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 thin like a soup. Simmer slowly, partially covered with lid. Stir occasionally. Cook until it reduces to a thick consistency — about 3 hours.
  14. If you are using canned beans, add them now.
  15. Add the remaining half of the diced tomatoes and stir. Simmer 10 more minutes.
  16. If you substituted bacon for the chorizo, Return the bacon to the chili now.
Recipe Notes

For uses where the chili is an ingredient rather than served standalone (like chili dogs or omelets) consider grinding the meat instead of dicing. Maybe even omitting the beans.

Some folks (::cough:: Texans ::cough::) never use beans, feeling they are an affront to proper chili. If not a combatant I suggest you leave such religious wars to others and follow your bliss when it comes to the beans.

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