Venison Chili

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  • Prep Time


  • Total Time


  • Servings



  • 1

    pound pinto beans or kidney beans

  • 4

    each, dried ancho, guajillo, pasilla, cascabel, mirasol or mulato chiles

  • ½

    pound bacon

  • 1

    large onion, diced

  • 6-8

    cloves garlic, chopped

  • 1

    habanero, fresh, if they’re in season

  • 2

    pounds ground venison or ground beef

  • 1

    pound sausage, taken out of skin and broken up (venison or pork is fine)

  • 2

    tablespoons paprika

  • 2

    tablespoons cumin

  • 1

    tablespoon ground coriander

  • 2

    tablespoons tomato paste

  • 2

    large tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped or one small can

  • 1

    cup of weak coffee

  • 3

    tablespoons molasses

  • Beef or venison broth (have a quart ready)

  • At least 2 tablespoons salt

  • Cilantro and shredded cheese to garnish


Soak beans in water overnight. If you have forgotten this, pour boiling water over them and soak for 4 hours, changing the water after 2 hours. Break up and seed the chiles and cover with boiling water. Let stand for an hour or so. Grind to a thick puree, adding about 1 cup of the soaking water and the coffee. Preheat oven to 275 degrees. Chop bacon and fry over medium heat in a Dutch oven or other large, lidded, oven-proof pot. Once the bacon is crispy, remove it and set aside. Add the meat and brown over high heat. You want the highest heat on your most powerful burner here, because the meat will want to steam and stew and not brown. Stir occasionally. Once all the meat is browned, add onion to the pot and cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring often. Return half the bacon to the pot. Add garlic, stir and cook for 1-2 minutes. Add the beans, paprika, cumin, coriander and salt one at a time, stirring to combine each time. Add chile puree and tomato paste and stir to combine well. Add chopped tomatoes, molasses and enough beef broth to cover everything – you want it to be stew-like, not thin like a soup. I typically need at least a pint of broth, sometimes a quart. Stir to combine all this well, plunk the lid on and bake in the oven for at least 3 hours. Check after 2 hours to see if you need more salt and broth, and to see how the beans are doing. If you have the habanero, this is the time to add it. When the beans are tender, take out of the oven and let rest for 15 minutes. Serve with your grain of choice, and top with cilantro, cheese and some of the crispy bacon pieces.


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