Cooler Weather Calls for Venison Chili

Soups and stews aren’t just great for cooler weather; they also pack really well as leftovers for lunch the next day. In general, S really likes soups and stews. But she burned out on them a couple of years ago, when I packed soup for lunch nearly every day. So, I’ve been slowly bringing them back in.

Yesterday’s cold rain, a rare occurrence in sunny San Diego but apropos for the day Steve Jobs died, was a good reason to make chili. I figured it would warm my hands and feet, and comfort my heavy heart after hearing about the death of the creative genius that changed the way I and millions of others thought about and used computers—as well as design.

Earlier in the week, I had scored some frozen ground venison at Sprouts for $7.99/lb., and it came in handy for this recipe. After a quick Google search, I discovered an easy recipe for venison chili from Emeril Lagasse. Initially, I followed the recipe to the letter, but after the tomato/beef broth/red wine base had simmered for 45 minutes, I realized there wouldn’t be nearly enough for the amount of ground venison I had. I quickly doubled the base and added a can of kidney beans, which was just the right amount of liquid. The recipe I’m including below is the original recipe. I recommend doubling the liquids and spices.

The entire family loved the chili, and the kids had no idea it was venison. I served it with a dollop of sour cream on top, cornbread on the side and sautéed kale. S asked for me to pack it in her lunch today, with a baked potato. I heated the chili and put it in a Thermos container for soups, and then I wrapped a baked potato (or in my case, microwaved) in foil and put it in a separate stainless feel container. That way, she can pour the chili over the potato at lunch.

Venison Chili (from Emeril Lagasse)


4 strips bacon, diced

2 1/2 lbs. leg or shoulder of venison cut into 1/2-inch cubes (I used 2 lbs. ground venison)

1 cup chopped onions

1 cup chopped green bell peppers

2 garlic cloves crushed

1 cup Cabernet Sauvignon or other dry red wine

1 TB tomato paste

1 TB chili powder

1 tsp. cumin

1 tsp. ground coriander

1 tsp. ground oregano

1 tsp. cayenne pepper

1 24-ounce can chopped tomatoes

1 cup beef stock

salt and pepper

1 cup grated Sonoma Jack cheese


In a large saucepan, cook the bacon until the fat is rendered, 4 to 6 minutes. Remove the bacon using a slotted spoon and transfer to paper-lined plate to drain. Add the venison to the hot oil in the pan and cook, stirring occasionally and in batches if necessary, until well seared. Remove from the pan and set aside. Add the onions, bell peppers, garlic and sauté over medium-low heat until tender. Stir in the wine and the tomato paste. Bring the mixture to a boil. Stir in the dry spices, chopped tomatoes and the beef stock. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Simmer uncovered for 35 to 45 minutes, or until the sauce is very thick and flavorful. Add the venison to the pot and cook, stirring, until just cooked through and hot, 3 to 4 minutes. Check the seasoning and serve with the grated cheese.





2 Comments to “Cooler Weather Calls for Venison Chili”

  1. Cal–love the blog! Can’t wait to see what you come up with. I’ll be checking for ideas for my daughter’s lunches!

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