Hunting season is here… It’s time to make Deer Camp Chili!

Fall is in the air! The colors are changing as the air turns crisp and cool. This also means it is HUNTING SEASON and time to make a big batch of Deer Camp Chili! (Did I mention this is my favorite season of the year???)

I have had several people ask me for recipe, although I really don’t have one. I have made the same from-scratch recipe for years which includes “a little of this and a little of that.” This year I took the time to write down the recipe for my grand children and their grand children to eventually enjoy. Until then, perhaps you can enjoy it, too. 😉

First, a few words of advice before you bust out the pots and pans to make a mess of your kitchen:

  • If you don’t have ground venison or venison steaks, substitute beef. If you don’t have venison sausage, substitute pork.
  • This recipe tends to be a bit on the spicy side. If you don’t like spicy, cut back on the chili powder, Tabasco and cayenne pepper, and cut out the red pepper flakes.
  • Also be warned that this makes a fairly large batch of yumminess, so make sure you use a large pot to avoid boiling over.
  • My boys prefer an all-meat chili and refuse to eat it if I add beans. Sometimes the mom in me wins and I sneak the beans in anyway. (Insert evil laugh here.) To add the extra nutrient power from beans, I take a can of black beans and can of kidney beans to the blender and puree. I then silently stir the pureed beans into the simmering chili when the boys aren’t looking. They have not once mentioned noticing a difference. (Insert another evil mom laugh here.)
  • If you prefer a smokier chili try substituting smoked paprika and/or chipotle chili powder.

Now for the good stuff……

Deer_Camp_Chili_Party

Michelle’s Deer Camp Chili

  • 1 pound ground venison
  • 1/2 pound bulk Italian sausage
  • 1/2 pound venison sausage
  • 1/4 pound thick cut bacon (with reserve grease)
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 2 green chile peppers, seeded and chopped (or 1 can Ortega chiles)
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 4 cubes beef bouillon
  • 1/2 cup beer (alcohol free is fine!)
  • 1/4 cup chili powder
  • 1 to 1 1/2 tablespoon(s) Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons hot pepper sauce (e.g. Tabasco™)
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery salt
  • A few dashes red pepper flakes (to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon white sugar
  • 2 (28 ounce) cans diced tomatoes with juice
  • 1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
  • 1 (15 ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 3 tablespoons masa harina

1. Start by cutting up the bacon into 1 inch pieces. Brown the bacon in a skillet over medium heat. Remove the bacon to drain over paper towels. Reserve the grease for later.

2. In the same skillet, brown the cubed venison steaks until browned on all sides (but not cooked thoroughly). Remove the browned meat to another bowl for the time being, draining any extra grease and liquid.

3. Using the same skillet, brown the ground venison, Italian sausage and venison sausage until cooked and crumbly. Drain the cooked meat and set aside for a few minutes.

4. Now, it is time to bust out the BIG stock pot. Warm the reserved bacon grease over medium heat. When the grease is warm, stir in the chopped celery, green chile peppers, red bell pepper and green bell pepper. Allow the veggies to simmer until they start to soften. Then mix in the onions and cook for a few more minutes until they start to sweat. After all the other veggies are soft, mix in the garlic and allow to cook for a minute or two while all the veggies are having one big festive party! Don’t let the veggies cook too long, though, as you don’t want to burn the garlic.

Deer_Camp_Chili_Veggie_Party

5. While your veggies are simmering away, mix your spices and seasonings in a separate bowl. These include the chili powder, oregano, cumin, basil, salt, celery salt, black pepper, red pepper flakes, cayenne pepper, paprika and sugar. Once mixed, pour the spice blend into the simmering veggies and stir. Let cook over medium heat for one minute to bring out the spice flavors.

6. Now, add in all the cooked meat, including the cubed steaks, ground meat, sausages, and bacon. Stir well.

7. It is time to add the liquid. Slowly stir in the died tomatoes, tomato sauce and tomato paste. Separately stir in the beer, Worcestershire sauce and hot pepper sauce.

8. Once the liquids have been mixed in, stir in the beef bullion cubes. Continue to stir the chili often until the cubes have been fully dissolved.

9. Reduce the heat to low and simmer the chili, uncovered, for about two hours, stirring occasionally. The chili may get more watery while it cooks down. Don’t worry, it is okay!

10. About 10-20 minutes before you are done cooking the chili, mix the masa harina in a small bowl with about 1/2 cups water to make thin paste. Pour the masa mixture into the chili while stirring. The masa will thicken the chili and adjust the flavor. Once the masa has been mixed in well, it is time for a taste test. (YUM!) Adjust the seasonings as necessary. Add more masa to thicken the chili or intensify the corn flavor. If the chili is too thick, add a little water or tomato sauce.

11. Once the chili is to your preferred thickness and taste, it is time for dinner! Garnish the chili with shredded cheese, diced onions and/or sour cream.

Enjoy!

Deer_Camp_Chili

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