A successful hunting season brings with it a bountiful supply of delicious fresh meat that will be sure to fill the freezer and provide food for the table through the long cold winter months. Naturally when you have a freezer full of anything it is handy to have an arsenal of ways to prepare the meat. Exercising a variety of ways to prepare the meat will maximize the enjoyment and optimize the usage. Here is a recipe for smoked venison chili featuring ground venison that is smoked low and slow to produce a hearty and flavorful chili.
Venison, or deer meat, can be a delicious lean meat when prepared properly. One thing to keep in mind when preparing venison in any dish is that it is a lean meat with very little fat. The trace amount of fat in the meat translates into very little forgiveness in the kitchen. It is easy to overcook venison producing a tough and leathery product that does more for jaw muscles then one’s palate.
One proven approach to preparing venison is to employ the ‘low and slow’ method. It makes sense as the lean and tough cuts of beef and pork are similar and smoking a beef brisket or pork shoulder for hours at low heat allow the internal temperature to come up slowly while breaking down the meat and allow it become more tender.
Another method employed by this recipe to account for the leanness of the venison is to add bacon which brings the fat levels up. Of course bacon bring its own flavors to the party as well which only serves to make this dish more memorable. A culinary win-win.
For this recipe calls for the use of a cast iron dutch oven which will allow the chili to be made directly inside the smoker. Typically, when doing chili, we like to avoid using the lid as much as possible resulting in a smokier and thicker chili. To temper the smoke flavor and/or to reduce the thickness of the chili the lid can be placed over the dutch oven after the first hour.
- 2 lbs. ground venison
- 5 strips of bacon chopped
- 2 Tbl. olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic chopped
- 2 onions chopped
- 6 bell peppers (red and green) chopped
- 3 chipotle peppers (in adobo sauce) chopped
- 1 Tbl. chili powder
- 1 tsp. onion powder
- 1 tsp. garlic powder
- 1 (28 oz) can of whole peeled tomatoes
- 1 (28 oz) can of diced tomatoes.
- 1 can red kidney beans (with liquid)
Prepare the Grill
Set the Egg up for an indirect smoke by placing the platesetter legs up. Place the cast iron dutch oven on the platesetter and allow to heat up to 250 degrees. Add hickory chunks for smoke flavor.
Prepping in the Kitchen
Add the olive oil to a large pan over medium high heat. Add the garlic and allow to cook stirring occasionally for 1 minute or until aromatic. Add the onions and allow to cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions begin to soften – about 5 minutes. Add the peppers and continue to sauté until the onions begins to caramelize and brown and the peppers are soft – about 8-10 minutes.
Back to the Grill
Once the grill has maintained a steady level of 250 degrees it is ready for the chili assembly in the dutch oven. This would be an ideal time to add hickory chunks if they have not yet been added to the coals. Open the lid and add the bacon to the dutch oven continuously stirring with a wooden spoon to spread the bacon pieces all over the entire bottom of the dutch oven. Add the ground venison and allow to brown stirring occasionally with a silicon or plastic spatula.
Once the venison has started to brown add the sautéd vegetables and mix thoroughly. Add the chili powder, garlic powder and onion powder and mix once more.
Add the remaining ingredients and mix until everything is evenly combined. Close the lid and allow to smoke at 250 for approximately 5 to 6 hours stirring occasionally.
Top with shredded cheddar cheese and serve with tortilla chips.