I confess…. I was a slacker over Christmas break and didn’t post any new recipes. I made a few fun things that I’ll post ASAP, but spending time with my kids ended up taking precedence. Since the winery has a Chili Cook-off coming up this weekend, I had chili on my mind when it was so rainy yesterday, so this recipe just came together for me. As with all my recipes, I used “The Force” with regards to the amounts of spices and such, but this is a fairly standard way for me to make chili. I do alter the meats, types of beans, and amounts of spices at times, but this is a workable recipe to use as a jumping off point if you have never made chili before.
I start with 2 onions, 2 spoons of garlic, and 1 large green pepper, diced well. I saute them in a little bit of olive oil until they got slightly toasty and then added one pound of ground venison. (Note: I got the venison from a friend… I would have used a package of ground turkey if I hadn’t had the venison to use.) Once the venison is thoroughly cooked, I add 1/2 cup of James River Cellars’ Petit Verdot red wine. This wine is smoky and deep… a great pairing with the lean game meat in this dish. Take your time here…. you want to allow time for the wine to be totally absorbed by the meat and vegetables before moving forward in the recipe.
Once the wine is totally incorporated, you can add the tomato/bean side of the chili. I use one 28-oz can crushed tomatoes and four 15-oz cans of beans, undrained. For this recipe, I used one can each of pinto, light kidney, dark kidney, and white cannellini beans. I also like to add one 6-oz can tomato paste to thicken the chili.
Once your beans and tomato products are incorporated into your chili, it’s time to think about spices and seasonings. I like to add a variation of spices… typically a blending of salt, garlic salt, pepper, cumin, chili powder, paprika, cinnamon, parsley, and a touch of honey or a little sugar. I used varying amounts of these spices, tasting the chili after incorporating each flavor until it all meshed well and tasted the way my family likes.
I know many people who like to add chipotle seasonings, hot sauce, or spicy peppers, but since my family isn’t fond of too much heat, this is the way we like our chili to taste. There are a multitude of “official” recipes for chili – some have specific ingredients while others simply give you generic ideas of what “should” be used. Lots of people also have accompaniments that they like to have with their chili… corn muffins, cornbread, saltines, spaghetti noodles, cheese, onions… the list can be endless. No matter what you use, or how you make it, enjoy the process of making chili for your own family. What you choose to use in your chili is completely appropriate – as long as it’s what you and your family enjoy, that’s all that matters, right?