Tag Archives: venison

Cincinnati-Style Chili

I feel a little blasphemous writing about Midwestern chili on a blog titled “The Austin Gastronomist.”  Chili is the state dish of Texas after all!  Texans are rightly pround of their chili, but we could learn a thing or two from the adventurous Cincinnatians, who traditionally season their chili with cinnamon and cocoa powder.  This dish combines those sweet flavors with spicy peppers and smoky chili powder in a thick, hearty stew.

Cincinnatti-Style Chili
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion
2 bell peppers
1 jalapeno pepper
1 Serrano pepper
1 pound venison, bison, or beef chop
1/4 cup apple juice
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon paprika
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
pinch salt
1 tablespoon cornmeal

Chop onion and, wearing rubber gloves, seed and rib all peppers. Chop the bell peppers and mince the jalapeno and Serrano peppers. Heat oil in a heavy bottomed pot over medium heat and add onions & peppers.  Stir occasionally and cook for about 10 minutes, until vegetables are tender and start to caramelize (turn brown in places).  Meanwhile, chop meat into bite sized pieces.  Add meat to caramelized veggies and cook for about 2 minutes, until meat begins to brown.  Add chili powder, paprika, cumin, cocoa powder, cinnamon, allspice, cayenne and salt to the pot, stirring to distribute; then pour in the apple juice and water.  Bring liquid to a boil, then turn heat to low.  Simmer, covered, for 45 minutes.  Before serving, whisk in cornmeal to thicken chili.  Plate over mashed sweet potatoes, cornmeal mush, or serve traditional Cincinnatti style over spaghetti.

Click here for a printable version of this recipe.

Although this chili was inspired by the Midwest, I  stayed true to my Texas roots by serving it over jalapeno cornmeal mush.  Next time I make this, I’m planning to take a cue from my friend Hilah and do it vegan by substituting mushrooms and beans for the meat.


Austin Beer Week: Texas Chili Pie

I made this chili pie in support of the Rangers’ first ever World Series appearance and so far it is working! (We’re winning game one of the series as I type.)  The idea for this recipe came from the concession food I liked to eat at Rangers games when I was a kid: frito pie!  This healthier, non-processed version combines a spicy  chili with hearty jalapeno cheddar corn bread.  Pure Texan comfort food!

If tomatoes and fresh beans were in season, I probably would have added them to the chili.  However, this version will satisfy the most picky Texas Chili enthusiasts since it has neither.  In celebration of Austin Beer Week, I used a whole bottle of Independence Brewing Company’s Austin Amber Ale in the chili, plus a half cup in the cornbread topper. The cornbread also features roasted corn and jalapeno peppers plus local cheddar cheese for added flavor and  texture.  You could skip those ingredients in a pinch, but the pie wouldn’t be nearly as rich and tasty!  I adapted the cornbread recipe from The Beer Wench‘s “Some Like it Hot” cornbread.  If you’re interested in gourmet brew, check out her website, it’s very cool.

One last thing: both the chili and the cornbread work as stand-alone recipes.  However, I think the presentation of the pie is really special.  Just like game day food should be! I hope you enjoy this easy and tasty Texas Chili Pie as much as we did, and let’s go Rangers!!

Texas Chili Pie (serves 6)

1 lb. ground venison, beef, or turkey
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 bell peppers, cored, seeded and chopped
2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 bottle Austin Amber Ale
2 tablespoons paprika
3 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons cornmeal
1 ear sweet corn
1 fresh jalapeno pepper
1 cup all-purpose flour (n.b. I tried this with whole wheat and it wasn’t good)
1 cup cornmeal
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup granulated sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup Austin Amber Ale
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
1 egg, beaten

In a heavy bottomed pan, brown meat over medium heat, adding a little oil if it’s very lean, stirring occasionally. While meat is browning, chop onions, garlic, peppers, and cilantro and add to pan. Stir the meat mixture and break up any large clumps of meat. Once onions are translucent and meat is broken up, pour in the beer and stir.  Add paprika, chili powder, cumin and salt.  Allow chili to stew, uncovered, for about half an hour while you prepare the cornbread topping.

For the cornbread: First, cut corn off the cob and mince jalapeno pepper.  Roast corn and pepper in a skillet over high heat with a little olive oil until some kernels of corn are brown.  Set aside to cool.  Whisk together flour, cornmeal, salt, sugar, and baking powder in a large mixing bowl. Add milk, beer, and egg and stir until just combined. (Lumps are okay.)  Finally, fold in shredded cheese, corn, and peppers.  Set aside and preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Back to the chili: stir in cornmeal one tablespoon at a time until chili thickens to desired consistency.  After two tablespoons of cornmeal, mine was as thick as juicy taco meat, just how I like it!  Remove chili from heat and carefully pour it into a 1.5 quart casserole dish.  Gently pour cornbread batter on top of the chili.  Using potholders, put the casserole in the preheated oven and bake for 30 minutes, until cornbread is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Garnish chili pie with fresh sliced jalapenos, diced onions, sour cream and cilantro.  Cheer for the Rangers!!

Click here for a printable copy of this recipe.

Austin Beer Week: Venison Pot Pie with Fireman’s #4

This recipe is just the thing for a cold, rainy night when you want to eat comfort food, snuggle under a blanket on the couch and watch some football.  (We haven’t had any cold rainy nights in Texas for several months, but the delicious winter flavors in this recipe at least help you imagine what that might feel like.)  I wasn’t originally planning to make a red meat-based dish for my lineup of Austin Beer Week recipes, but when we got some beautiful white mushrooms as a surprise in our Greenling box this week I knew immediately that I wanted to use them with potatoes and venison in a pot pie of some kind. I adapted this recipe from Mrs. L’s Steak and Ale Pie with Mushrooms on Allrecipes.com.  I replaced her generic ale with Fireman’s #4, a local favorite, brewed by Real Ale in Blanco, Texas.  Fireman’s is a light ale, and I chose it for this recipe because I thought it would complement the game flavors of the venison and mushrooms perfectly.  I left the delicate skin on the red potatoes for texture and flavor, and upped the garlic from Mrs. L’s recipe considerably, from two cloves to four.

The venison I used in this recipe was a butterfly chop killed and processed in rural Iowa on my family’s farm.  If you don’t have a hunter in your family, you can purchase free-range, grass fed venison from Broken Arrow Ranch on site in Ingram, Texas or here in Austin at Whole Foods.  This recipe would also work well with sustainably raised beef stew meat.

Finally, please, please, please make your own pie crust if you’re able.  You probably have the ingredients in your pantry, and even if your pie crust isn’t as pretty as store-bought (mine wasn’t) it will taste infinitely better.  Not sure how? There are excellent step-by-step instructions with pictures at The Pioneer Woman and Joyful Abode.  FYI, their recipes produce 2-3 times more crust than this pie needs, but the pictures and method are universally helpful and worth studying before your first pie crust adventure.

Venison Pot Pie with Fireman’s #4
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup very cold shortening or butter
4 tablespoons ice water
1 pound venison stew meat, cubed
3 tablespoons all purpose flour
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 (12 fluid ounce) bottle Fireman’s 4 Blonde Ale
4 cloves garlic, minced
4-5 small red potatoes, diced, about 2 cups
16 white mushrooms, sliced into fourths, about 2 cups
seasoned salt to taste
pepper to taste

Prepare pie crust: mix flour and salt in a small bowl.  Cut butter into flour mixture using a pastry blender, two butter knives or your fingers, until mixture is crumbly and blended. (The largest pieces of butter should be about the size of green peas, completely coated in flour.)  Mix in ice water one tablespoon at a time with a fork. Form dough into a ball, wrap with plastic wrap, and chill in the fridge for at least an hour. The dough keeps will keep in the fridge up to 48 hours.

Prepare filling: Cube venison and dredge (coat) in flour.  Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat.  Add minced garlic, onions and venison, stirring frequently.  Once meat is browned, pour beer in and scrape the bottom of the pan to deglaze.  Stir down the beer and add sliced mushrooms and diced potatoes.  Don’t worry if liquid doesn’t completely cover the veggies, they will cook down.  Season with salt and pepper; I used a 1/2 teaspoon of each.  Bring liquid to a boil, reduce heat to medium low.  Simmer uncovered for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Check on the pot periodically during this time and cover it if liquid level seems to get too low.  Filling is ready when meat and potatoes are tender and liquid has reduced. Carefully pour the hot filling into a 1.5 quart round casserole.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place casserole dish on a cookie sheet. (This makes it much easier to transport in and out of the oven.) Roll out the chilled pie crust and place it on the casserole dish. Pinch crust against the edges of the dish with your fingers and use scissors to cut away any extra crust from the sides of the casserole. Vent the crust by cutting 5 or 6 slits in the top center of the crust with a sharp paring knife.  Use pot holders to transfer the pie to the oven. Note: This was my first try at homemade crust and I felt like I might have ruined it because it looked very different from the ultra smooth Pillsbury pie crust I’ve used before. However, it baked up fine and tasted great.  Don’t get discouraged if your homemade crust looks worse than store-bought!!

Bake pie for 25 minutes at 400 degrees, until gravy is bubbly and crust is golden brown.  Allow to cool for at least half an hour before serving so you don’t burn the entire right side of your mouth. (Not that I did that or anything.)

Click here for a printable copy of this recipe.