This is my version of venison chili. It does involve several items you don’t often see in chili, like molasses and coffee, but I’ve been modifying this recipe over the years to the point where this is what I like. Serve this over rice or polenta, garnished with cilantro and maybe some Mexican queso seco, jack cheese or American cheddar.
12 to 16combined total of dried ancho, guajillo, pasilla, or mulato chiles
1/2poundMexican chorizo or chopped bacon
2 to 3poundsvenison,ground or diced
1large yellow or white onion,diced
6 to 8clovesgarlic,chopped
2tablespoonssweet or smoked paprika
1quartBeef or venison broth
Salt to taste
Cilantro and shredded cheese to garnish
Soak beans in water overnight. If you have forgotten this, pour boiling water over them and soak for 4 hours, changing the water after 2 hours.
Remove the stems and seeds of chiles and tear into pieces. Cover with boiling water. Let stand for 30 minutes. Grind to a puree with the consistency of gravy, adding about 1 cup of the soaking water and the coffee to do so.
Meanwhile, break up the chorizo or chop bacon and fry over medium heat in a Dutch oven or other large, lidded, oven-proof pot. Once the chorizo has browned or the bacon is crispy, remove it and set aside. Add the venison and brown over high heat. You want the highest heat on your most powerful burner here, because the meat will want to steam and stew and not brown. If you are doing a big pot of chili, brown the meat in batches. Stir occasionally as it browns. Salt it as it cooks.
Once all the meat is ready, add the onion to the pot and cook for 5 minutes, stirring often. If you are using chorizo, return it to the pot; if you are using bacon, leave it out for now. Add the garlic, stir and cook for 1 minute. Add the beans, paprika, cumin, coriander, chipotle powder and salt one at a time, stirring to combine each time.
Add chile puree and tomato paste and stir to combine well. Add the molasses and enough beef broth to cover everything – you want it to be thin like a soup. I typically need at least a pint of broth, sometimes a quart. Stir to combine all this well, bring to a bare simmer and cook gently for 3 hours or so, stirring occasionally. Put the lid halfway over the pot as it cooks. You want it to eventually cook down and be thick.
Once the beans are tender, you're good to go. If you are using canned beans, now's the time to add them. Return the bacon to the chili if you're using it. Serve the chili with rice or cornbread, and top with cilantro, cheese and maybe some pickled onions.
If you want to go full Mexican here instead of Tex-Mex or Southwest, try my recipe for chile colorado, which is a lot like chili, but is more authentically Mexican.
Keys to Success
If you have all day, use dried beans. They're better.
If you need to leave the house, put the chili in a 325°F oven, covered, instead.
Literally any meat works here, and if you want to go vegetarian, use chopped mushrooms. I've done it and it's amazing.
I strongly advise you to stick to the types of chiles I list: anchos, guajillos, pasilla, New Mexican, etc. This prevents you from blowing everyone's heads off with heat. You can always make it hotter later.
If you make this a lot, try the diced meat option sometimes. It is a very Texas thing and it's really quite good.