Over the years, I've discovered something interesting about chili. There's only about a million different recipes. Some are great, some are greater, some are hot, others are hotter.
Some have beans, some don't. Some have tomatoes, others don't. Some have meat, others don't. It's almost as if there's a challenge out there to see just how far away you can get and still call it chili.
Well, I thought, how hard can it be? I mean, if there are so many different recipes, and you pretty much follow one of them, you can't really go wrong, then, can you?
Then a friend of mine mentioned that the best way he'd ever had venison was in a chili, and that also intrigued me. I have a brother-in-law that's an avid hunter, and I thought I might get some venison from him. That turned out to be so, and I started!
12" dutch oven
10-12 coals below
- 1/3 cup red kidney beans, uncooked
- 1/3 cup pinto beans, uncooked
- 1/3 cup black beans, uncooked
- 1-2 lbs venison stew meat
- 1 med onion, chopped
- 1 yellow bell pepper, chopped
- 2 large tomatoes, chopped
- 2 Tbsp chili powder
- 1 bay leaf, crumbled
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- 1 Tbsp salt
- 1 Tbsp crushed red pepper
- 2 Tbsp ground cumin
- 1 Tbsp cumin seeds
- 1/2 Tbsp ground cinnamon
- Black pepper to taste
- About a cup of water
So, I started off with three different kinds of beans: red kidney, black, and pinto. Last night, I started them soaking. When I put them in the bowl with the water, it kinda looked like red, white, and blue. Cool! I'd read that adding baking soda to the soaking water makes them less "gassy" later on. I thought I'd try that. (Note, added by the author several days later: I found this not to be the case. I might have to issue a formal written apology to my co-workers who had to work close to me the following day...)
I changed the water in the morning, and again when I got home from church. After church, I started the coals, and put the beans in my 12" shallow. I'd heard that it could take quite a bit of time to cook beans, even after they'd soaked, so I was all ready to cook them for hours, if necessary. I put the dutch oven over about 15 or so coals, and put on the lid, with no coals on top. In no time, it was boiling away. After a few minutes of boiling, I took some briquettes off so that it would be more of a simmer.
Then, I got out my 8" dutch oven, and put some oil in, on top of about 8-9 coals. When that heated up, I put the venison stew meat in to brown. Before long, the meat was browned, and the beans were starting to soften. I put the meat in the beans. At that point, I also added about a cup of water.
Then, I started preparing all of the other things, chopping the onions, the pepper, the tomatoes. All of those went in. I blended up all of the dry seasonings, and added them as well. From that point on, it was just a matter of stirring it and keeping the coals fresh so it simmered. The total cooking time was about 2 hours.
When it was all done, I served it up with shredded cheddar on top and some of my wife's homemade bread. Man, it was good.
Also, when it's all done, I've read that it's a good idea to get chili out of your oven as soon as possible, because all the acid will eat away at the patina you've built up with all your seasonings.
Anyway, that's my chili!