Monday, March 18, 2019 Elyria 32°
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Outdoors

Fall means crisp days -- and chili nights

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    When you hunt, sometimes you get venison. And when yu get venison, sometimes you get chili.

    BRAD ZAHAR / CHRONICLE

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If the weather this week was any indication of what’s to come this winter, we had better be prepared. Cold temperatures and snow are synonymous with Northeast Ohio winters, which seemingly last forever. Cabin fever sets in and warm, hearty meals find their way off the stove and onto our plates.

One of those meals that’s always a favorite during the winter is chili.

From the time the leaves fall and cooler temperatures arrive, outdoorsmen think of deer season. Making venison chili is always a hit for hunters. Right now it is peak rut season and that trophy buck will make an appearance, giving us a chance to harvest a great deer, and stuff our freezers for months to come.

Growing up in a hunting family, I ate venison from an early age. I’ve cooked with it for years and have experimented with good recipes and some I will never attempt again. But through trial and error, this chili recipe has proven to be a success with family and friends, especially with the holidays approaching.

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds of ground venison
  • Bacon cut into pieces
  • Pepper (color of your choice)
  • 1 medium onion (chopped)
  • 1 to 2 cloves of minced garlic
  • 2 cans of kidney beans (light or dark)
  • 1 (30-ounce) can of tomato sauce
  • 2 tablespoons of chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons of paprika
  • Old Bay to taste

Cut the bacon into small pieces and add to a heated stockpot. Cook anywhere from 5-10 minutes depending on how crispy you want it.

Add pepper, onion, garlic and cook for 7-10 minutes.

Add the venison and cook until browned. (I usually leave the grease, but it can be drained, too.)

Add beans, tomato sauce, chili powder, paprika and Old Bay.

Bring the chili to a boil, reduce heat and let simmer for one to three hours. It will not hurt to simmer longer but, if you’re like me, I tend to stir and make sure everything is consistent. You can also put the chili into a crock pot and simmer all day for more tender venison or if you want to just fix it and forget it.

I’ve found this recipe to be a general guideline. If you like more or less of something, feel free to add or subtract it.

Some people like their chili thicker, some more soupy. The thickness of it is personal preference and can be changed by simply adding water to the pot while it simmers. Feel free to experiment with it, too.

Everyone has their own recipe they enjoy.

While I don’t hope to win any chili cook-offs or moonlight as a chef with this recipe, cooking and creating wild game recipes is a nice way to pass the time throughout the course of a long Northeast Ohio winter.

Contact Brad Zahar at bzaharoutdoors@gmail.com.
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