Gridiron Grub: Venison & Ginger Beer Chili


A couple of weeks ago my Eagles were knocked out of the NFL playoffs and before that, my beloved PSU Nittany Lions embarrassed themselves in the Outback Bowl. Thankfully, while I drowned my sorrows last week, BS provided us with a look at overpriced NFL beer and provided me with some time to regain my composure so that I could return reinvigorated for the final 2 weeks of the 2010/2011 season.  The forecast for the games this weekend isn’t too promising and where I live we are expecting single digit temperatures. Needless to say, I will not be heading out to watch any games, but instead thought I would make a big pot of the ultimate winter comfort food….chili.

I don’t know if I have ever come across a bad bowl of chili. There are so many different ways to prepare it and they all end up being pretty delicious. While doing a little research for this post, I confirmed that the word chili is Spanish and the first recorded use was in 1604. The rough translation was: “a bunch of tasty shit stewed together for awhile.” Partly inspired by ML’s recent post about game meat, and the fact that I had access to locally hunted venison, I decided to go with a venison chili. This chili recipe started out a few years ago, straight from a Field and Stream recipe, but with small changes each attempt, I came to this week’s incarnation:

Venison and Ginger Beer Chili with Lime Cream



2 pounds of venison, medium dice
1/4 pound of slab bacon, diced
2 medium yellow onions, diced
1 medium red onion, diced
3-6  serrano peppers seeded and diced (or not seeded, depending how hot you like it)
1 red bell pepper seeded and diced
1 yellow bell pepper seeded and diced
1 green bell pepper seeded and diced
2 tsp hickory salt
3 cloves of garlic minced
1/4 cup of balsamic vinegar
4 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon sweet paprika
1 tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 teaspoon molasses
1 bottle Ginger Beer
1 cup Tamarind jam (optional)
1 24oz can whole plum tomatoes
1 24oz can crushed tomatoes
32 oz kidney beans

I know it sounds a little busy but it has a great depth of sweet, smoky and spicy flavors mixing together. In a deep soup pot, brown the venison in batches. Separately in a large pan on medium heat, render the fat down in the bacon before setting it aside and sweating out the onions, chilis and peppers. Stir the vegetables frequently and scrape the bottom of the pan. Cook everything with a dash of salt for 10 minutes or so before adding the garlic and vinegar. After that bubbles a little and comes up to temperature, add your spices and cook for another few minutes. In your soup pot, mix everything together and simmer on low heat. Add the honey, molasses, ginger beer and tomatoes. Stir well and bring to a boil before reducing heat back to a low simmer.

Sometime I also add a lime cream on top of the finished chili. Just mix together 1 c light sour cream, 1 tbsp of lime zest, tsp of lime juice, some cumin and cracked black pepper.

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  • EvoDiva January 22, 2011  

    Did your new [used] encyclopedia give you the definition for chili? This sounds delish and at the very least, I will never use plain sour cream again – GREAT idea to zest it up! I’m inspired to make my first chili of the season now too.

  • Josh January 24, 2011  

    Can I substitute shmaltz for the bacon fat?

  • Borracho January 25, 2011  

    Absolutely! Schmaltz is always good. I would add a chipotle, liquid smoke, little more hickory salt or something to add some smoke though if you want to

  • Lizzy April 7, 2011  

    When do you add the ginger beer?

  • Borracho April 8, 2011  

    Towards the end right before just letting it simmer for awhile. When reheating I typically add a tbsp or so as well

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