Thursday, September 11, 2008

Venison, Sausage and Black Bean Chili...

The times when the drops of rain were not being released from the clouds today, it was very overcast and generally pretty icky outside - not warm, not cold, but just that "blah" in between. By luck, I had this Venison, Sausage and Black Bean Chili already on the menu to make tonight - chili is perfect for this type of weather!

To start out with a bang, hot Italian turkey sausage is cooked and crumbled with a plenty of aromatic chopped onion and minced garlic. When the onion had softened, chunky pieces of trimmed venison loin are tossed in and allowed to begin caramelizing their lean surface. To richen the concentrated flavor in the tomato paste, it is now added before any liquids to give it plenty of contact with the bottom of the pot. Now I know I harp about this a lot, but it is a step worth doing to highlight some of those flavorful notes found in the paste.

Broth, chopped tomatoes, a bit of water and smoky cumin loosen the chili and season up the meat. Also added is ancho chile powder, which I thought this was key to this dish. If you've never had it before, it is certainly worth seeking out - it doesn't have much heat at all, but what it does provide is a rich, mildly sweet flavor that has undertones of what you might find in paprika. At this point, the chili will simmer for a long hour and fifteen minutes, giving the venison plenty of time to turn very tender with a melt-in-your-mouth quality. The black beans are held back until that point and only need to be heated through to keep their firm texture. To serve, we scattered the top of each bowl with cooling creamy crumbles of goat cheese and thin slices of fresh jalapeƱo - don't groove on goat cheese? Sour cream would also be a nice addition to curb the spice from the turkey sausage and what little heat the chile powder adds.

The texture lands somewhere in between a broth-y chili and a thick, heavy chili - it was still light enough to be refreshing, but still filling. We very rarely use venison as we've had some recipes that ended up being fairly game-y tasting, but I was surprised with how well everything melded together and neither of us noticed anything off at all! The venison does have a robust flavor, but combined with the two forms of tomatoes, chile and beans, Jeff has declared this his favorite chili-of-the-moment. I reminded him of some of the past favorites we have made before, but he is firm in his stance that this has climbed to the top of the list.


  1. Where did you buy venison? I haven't seen it in my local grocery stores.

  2. Joe that is one of your best recipes yet and you sure have had a hundreds of them.

    As soon as hurricane Ike is over this will be the first thing I prepare.

  3. Sara - we got it through a local co-op.

    Old Duffy - Thank you! Stay safe through that monster!

  4. Hi Joe,
    In your opinion, could you substitute a form of beef for the venison? I love all of the other interesting ingredients, but I'm just not down with venison.

    Fellow CLBB-er,

  5. Oh boy - this is just the kind of chili I like! I'd skip the venison ( tho I've had it and it's delicious)and just do sausage and black bean. Lovely recipe!

  6. Megan - I bet you could probably get away with using a beef stew cut.

    Katrina - Sounds good!