Not chilly enough for chili?
I know, I know, it's too hot for chili, but I had some ground venison that was gifted to us by a guy with a new vegetarian girlfriend, and ground meat doesn't keep long in the freezer.
Here a recipe for the chili I made yesterday. It was killer, zippy but not too hot, with a rich, complex flavor. This chili improves on standing and is at its best the day after it's made.Venison Chili
Lean and flavorful venison is my favorite meat for chili, although sometimes I make it with ground turkey or no meat at all. My chili recipe has evolved a lot over the years, and the ingredients vary each time I make it. Sometimes I add beans, sometimes I don't. And the dried chile assortment varies according to what I have on hand.
2 dried chipotle chilies
1 dried puya chile
1 dried chile de arbol
2 tablespoons canola oil (when I have it I prefer corn oil for this)
1 and 1/2 pounds ground venison
2 teaspoons coarse sea salt
Freshly ground pepper to taste
6 cloves garlic, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 fresh jalape?o, seeded and chopped
1 tablespoon salt-free chili powder (I use Penzey's
1/2 teaspoon Mexican oregano
1 teaspoon cumin
1 bay leaf
11 fresh plum tomatoes, coarsely chopped (I would normally use canned but my garden is currently overflowing with gorgeous plum tomatoes--if you don't like skins you can cut tiny crosses in them, then boil for 30 seconds and peel--I didn't bother)
1 12-ounce can Labatt Blue beer (you can certainly use whatever brand you have hanging around)
1 can small red beans (I used the excellent Mi Casa brand), drained and rinsed
Fresh chopped cilantro for garnish (optional)
Bring a small saucepan of water to a boil, then remove from heat. Place dried chilies in it and set aside for half an hour or longer.
Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large heavy saucepan on medium heat, then brown the meat until it loses its pink color. Add the salt, pepper, garlic, onion, celery and fresh jalape?o. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are translucent, about 15 minutes.
Deseed and mince the soaked dried chilies. Add them to the pot, along with all the remaining ingredients except the beans. Bring to a vigorous simmer, then lower to the barest simmer and cook for one hour, stirring occasionally. If the chili gets too dry, you can add a little water. Add beans and heat until cooked through. I love to serve this with lots of cilantro on top but I didn't have any on hand this time. Sour cream and/or grated cheddar or Monterey jack cheese would be lovely, too, if your tummy tolerates them.
With this intense chili, I served wedges of the following quick cornbread for dunking:Corny Cornbread
You'll notice that the first ingredient is bacon grease from that jar you keep in the fridge. You do have a jar in your fridge, don't you? Even if you only have bacon once in a while, keep that fat to put a little dab in your greens, for flavoring the corn oil you fry chicken in, and for this cornbread. The fat makes the crust crispy and tasty. Okay, okay, substitute butter and it will be almost as good.
You will need a 10-inch cast iron skillet, and if you don't have one, you must buy one, from a yard sale or my favorite kitchen supply store, Warren Kitchen & Cutlery
I always thought corn bread had to include buttermilk, be sugarless, and have more corn meal than flour, but I finally hit upon this combo, and it's now my standard recipe.
Normally I add two tablespoons of light brown sugar to the dry ingredients when I make this bread without the fresh corn, but with August's supersweet corn, sugar isn't needed.
3 tablespoons bacon grease
3/4 cup cornmeal (I order mine from Anson Mills
in South Carolina)
1 cup flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
One ear fresh, local, in-season corn, boiled ten minutes, cooled, and the kernels cut off
Preheat oven to 425? F. Put the bacon grease in a 10-inch cast iron skillet and put it in the oven to melt while you're mixing the rest of the ingredients.
In a medium mixing bowl, stir together the cornmeal, flour, baking powder and salt. Add the milk and egg, mix well, then fold in the corn kernels.
Pour the mixture into the greasy skillet and bake for about 25 minutes, or until golden on top and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. (If you use the light brown sugar instead of the corn it will cook quicker.)