This, over the past few years, has become my go-to chili recipe. It’s not the kind of chili that’ll win a Texas-style cookoff, but it’s homey, rich, and satisfying.
The Cannolis, Ditalini’s sister Gina and her husband Lengua, visited over Christmas, bringing with them venison from upstate Michigan. The other day I took a package of ground venison out of the freezer and decided to do something with it. Chili sounded about right, and I quickly found an interesting recipe on the net, attributed to an Alabama man named David Rainier.
His recipe called for four pounds of ground venison and the other ingredients were scaled accordingly, making enough chili to serve 10-12. I had a pound and a half, so scaled everything back. His version called for liquid crab boil … that’s the part of the recipe that caught my eye, by the way, and I’m glad it did … but all I had was powdered Old Bay seasoning, which I substituted.
The initial pot of venison chili was outstanding. Since then I’ve made it with ground beef, cut up chuck roast, and (most recently) leftover smoked brisket. What follows is my version of Mr. Rainier’s recipe, tailored to the ingredients I typically have on hand, which makes enough to serve 4-6.
1 1/2 lb meat: ground venison or beef, or cut-up pot roast)
1 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 large onion, chopped
1 small can diced green chiles (hot or medium)
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can tomato sauce
2 cans dark red kidney beans
3-4 tbsp chili powder
1 dash cayenne pepper
1 tsp Old Bay seasoning
salt to taste
1/2 tsp garlic salt
2 bay leaves
Heat olive oil in a heavy cooking pot and sauté garlic and onions until tender. Add meat and brown for 10 minutes over medium heat. Add tomatoes, green chiles, tomato sauce, kidney beans, chili powder, cayenne pepper, Old Bay, salt, garlic salt. Mix together and add bay leaves. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, simmer uncovered for 2-3 hours.
This chili is surprisingly rich. Not sure if it’s the Old Bay or what, but it’s great. We serve it with cornbread made from the standard recipe that comes on the cornmeal box.