By Rand E. Creitz
We use shredded lean venison that I process myself, which produces a soup without the greasy taste and feel that you don't even know is there until you try this.
I guess we ate about 4 1/2 to 5 deer last year, which saved us about $1,000 and only God knows how many fat grams.
2# lean meat
1# dried pinto, kidney or other favorite bean, soaked overnight, or two cans
2 lg. onions, chopped
1 head garlic, diced
4-6 ears corn, cut from cob
2-3 med. potatoes, diced to 1/2 inch
handful of corn starch or meal
4-5 fresh tomatoes, peeled and diced or 1 lg. can
2-6 tbsp chili powder, depending on your taste
1-3 tsp ground cumin or whole camino seed, again, depending upon your preference
red pepper flakes to taste, a good hot sauce may be used but I'm not crazy about the bottled taste
2 tbsp cocoa powder
1 small or 1 lg. can tomato sauce, depending on how much you like tomato sauce. Extra, if needed, can always be added toward the end of the cooking time.
1-3 cups water, as needed
In a large Dutch oven or other pan brown meat in just enough oil to cover bottom of pan (I have to use a little on venison, other meats may need to be drained before continuing). While browning meat, add chopped onion, tomato sauce, garlic, corn and corn starch or meal. When the meal is starting to thicken and get done, add chili powder, cumin, red pepper and tomatoes. After sauteeing and stirring well, add cocoa powder and canned beans or soaked, drained dried beans. If you use canned beans, do not drain; if you use soaked dried beans, add just enough water to cover. Cover,salt to taste, add potatoes and simmer for 1 to 1 1/2 hrs, adding water as needed if you used dried beans (dried beans cook much more uniformly if you keep just enough water in them to keep them from burning. Adding too much actually slows the cooking process). A good way to simmer this dish without getting some burning is to place the pan in a 200-250 degree oven. This allows you to go about other tasks without having to stir the pot every 5 minutes.
Note: some people like to use a glob of peanut butter in place of the cocoa powder, and that's good too. Try both and see what you like. The potatoes aren't in any way necessary to have a good soup. I tried them once to calm down the heat when the top of the red pepper came off while I was shaking some into the pot. We liked it and have done it ever since. If you do get too much spiciness and don't want potatoes in your chili, just peel a couple and put them in whole. They're easy to remove once they've absorbed as much heat as you want them to.
If you use less water, this dish comes out thick and rich, ready for cheddar and cornbread or crackers. However, if you prefer a thinner soup just add a little chicken stock or water until desired consistency is achieved.
Rand E. Creitz
"A merry heart doeth good like a medicine, but a broken spirit dries the bones."