We side with Texas when it comes to chili. No beans, thanks. Just meat, and lots of it. And if it’s venison, even better. Also nice? Plenty of kick, which, here, comes from the smoked chipotle chiles in adobo sauce. Be sure to pat the meat dry before browning to ensure good caramelization, which sears the essence of its flavor into the entire pot. That’s especially important here to help the flavor of the venison stand up against the spices.
Serves 6 – 8
2 1/2 lb. cubed venison loin (saddle), silverskin removed, cut into cubes
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup flour
3 tbsp. canola oil
3 tbsp. butter
1 large red onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp. chili powder
1 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. ground allspice
1 cinnamon stick
12-oz. dark beer, such as Lazy Magnolia Southern Pecan Nut Brown Ale
Two (12-oz. cans) Ro-Tel diced tomatoes with green chiles, drained
2 cups beef stock
3 tbsp. dark brown sugar
1 canned chipotle chile in adobo sauce, minced
2 tsp. dried oregano
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Garnishes: tortilla chips, sour cream, cilantro leaves, grated sharp Cheddar, chopped scallions, jalapeños, and lime wedges
Toss the venison in a bowl with a generous sprinkling of salt and pepper. Put the flour in a shallow bowl and add half the venison cubes, tossing to coat. Place a Dutch oven over medium-high heat until hot; add 1 tablespoon of the oil and 1 tablespoon of the butter to the hot pan. Put the floured venison in the pan and cook undisturbed for 2 minutes to develop a rich brown crust. (Be careful not to overcrowd the pan or you will steam the meat; work in batches if necessary.) Stir after well browned on one side and cook undisturbed 2 minutes more. Remove the meat from the pan with a slotted spoon to a plate and set aside, while you repeat with the remaining venison.
Reduce heat to medium and the remaining oil and butter to the pan and sauté the onion for 5 minutes, or until softened. Add the garlic, chili powder, cumin, allspice, and cinnamon stick. Sauté 1 minute. Add the beer and deglaze the pot, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom. Return the venison to the pan and add the tomatoes with juice, stock, brown sugar, chipotle chile, and oregano. Cover and simmer over low heat 1 1/2 hours. Remove the pan from heat and stir in the cilantro.
To serve, arrange garnishes on the table. Ladle the chili into serving bowls and let each person garnish the chili to their liking.