This past Saturday I spent the afternoon in paradise. Standing in the sunny, cool crisp fall air, catching up with friends, taking in wafts of meats smoking on a charcoal grill, and washing it all day with a cold beer or three - yep, it's that time of the year again - football (and tailgate) season.
Watching my Georgia Bulldogs play in my adopted home town of Nashville is always a biennial treat - as old friends make their way up to Music City to take in the sights and sounds. It also means that I'll be doing some cooking!
This is my favorite time of year down south. Summer temps are finally giving way to changing leaves and cooling temperatures. It's a much needed reprieve from the sock-ya in-the-mouth heat and humidity of summer.
It's also a great time to start utilizing some of my favorite fall ingredients (apples, squash, cauliflower, kale, pumpkins) to cook up some comfort dishes. For those of you near the Georgia coast, I invite you all to come hang out with me this weekend - September 18 - 20 at the Jekyll Island Shrimp and Grits Festival. I'll be cooking up a few favorites from my latest cookbook, A Southern Gentleman's Kitchen, while also making the rounds and tasting some of the finest versions of Shrimp and Grits this side of the ole Mason-Dixon line!
For the rest of you - I invite you to cook up my Game-Day Venison Chili, while cheering on your favorite team - Go Dawgs, for me, of course!
If you don't have a freezer full of ground venison, you soon should with the arrival of hunting season. Of course, you will need deer hunting blinds to catch those swift creatures. If you aren't big on wild game, you can always substitute ground beef, turkey, or bison.
Over the years, I've worked at length to perfect this chili recipe - it's got the right amount of hearty ingredients, plenty of heat, and deep flavors that always make this a game-day favorite. Cook up a big batch in the morning, put some beer on ice, invite friends over, and turn on the games - it's time to enjoy this special season.
Game-Day Venison Chili
- 2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
- 1 large Vidalia or sweet onion, finely diced (about 2 cups)
- 1 green bell pepper, finely diced (about 1½ cups)
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 jalapeño peppers, seeded and finely diced
- 2 lb. ground venison
- 3 Tbsp. chili powder
- 2 Tbsp. plus 1½ tsp. ground cumin
- 1 Tbsp. kosher salt
- 1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup amber beer
- 1 (28-oz.) can tomato sauce
- 1 (28-oz.) can petite diced tomatoes
- 1 (14-oz.) can dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 (14-oz.) can black beans, drained and rinsed
Toppings: shredded sharp Cheddar cheese, sour cream, finely chopped green onions
1. Heat a Dutch oven over medium heat 1 minute or until hot; add oil. Add onion and bell pepper; sauté 8 minutes. Add garlic and jalapeño; sauté 2 minutes or just until fragrant.
2. Add venison and next 4 ingredients, and cook, stirring often, 6 minutes or until meat crumbles and is no longer pink. Add beer, and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon to loosen any browned bits from bottom of Dutch oven, 2 minutes.
3. Stir in tomato sauce and next 3 ingredients; reduce heat to medium- low, and simmer, partially covered and stirring occasionally, 30 minutes. Remove from heat, and serve with desired toppings.