Who doesn't love a good chilli? Rose Prince makes hers with minced venison and coffee, which brings all the flavours together wonderfully. Serves 6-8
Recipe for venison chilli con carne
- 4 tbsp duck fat or beef dripping
- 2 onions, thinly sliced
- 6 cloves of garlic, chopped
- 1kg venison mince
- 1 tbsp concentrated tomato purée
- 500ml freshly brewed coffee
- 1 tbsp chipotle chilli paste
- 2 tbsp dried ancho chilli flakes
- 2 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 tsp dried thyme flakes
- 1 tbsp dried oregano
- 1 tbsp dark brown sugar
- 1 tsp chilli powder
- 2 fresh long green chillies, split open and de-seeded
- 2 x 400g cans Mexican black beans, drained
For the cornmeal chips:
- 1litre water
- 500ml whole milk
- 3 tsp salt
- 375g instant polenta
- 2 tbsp grated parmesan
- Vegetable oil, for frying
To serve with the chilli:
- 8 tbsp sour cream
- 2 avocados, sliced
- 2 handfuls baby salad leaves
- 8 fresh green chillies, chopped
1. To prepare the venison, place a large casserole over a medium heat and add the fat. Add the onion and cook until pale gold, about 10 minutes — do not let it burn. Add the garlic and cook for a further minute. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon on to a plate, leaving the fat in the pan.
2. Stir fry the venison mince in the fat. Only brown it lightly; if the venison is overcooked it will dry out and the chilli will have a nubbly texture. Add the onion mixture back to the pan, stir, then add the tomato paste. Stir over the heat for another 30 seconds then add the coffee. Bring to simmering point and cook for one to one and a half hours, until the mince is tender.
3. Add the chipotle paste and the ancho chillies, followed by the cumin, thyme, oregano, sugar, chilli powder and green chillies. Bring back to simmering point and cook for a few minutes, then add the beans and allow to simmer for a further 30 minutes. Taste and season with sea salt and black pepper. Set to one side until needed.
4. To prepare the cornmeal chips, put the water, milk and salt in a large pan and bring to the boil. Have ready a large wooden board, a whisk and a spatula. When the water is boiling fast, stir with the whisk to make a “whirlpool” then add the polenta in a slow and steady stream. Keep stirring; the polenta will immediately begin to thicken.
5. Turn down the heat and let the polenta bubble for 4 minutes. Stir in the parmesan cheese, then tip the mixture on to the board. Use the spatula to scrape out the pan then shape the cooked cornmeal into a 4cm thick slab — this is quite easy. Allow it to cool then cut into thick chips.
6. Heat about 5cm of vegetable oil in the base of a frying pan over a medium heat. Cook the cornmeal chips until crisp and lightly browned, turning them in the oil. This takes about 5 minutes but they will need to be done in batches. Keep them warm until needed.
7. Serve the piping hot chilli in a large bowl, with another plate piled high with the cornmeal chips. Hand round the avocado and salad with the sour cream to spoon over each serving.
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Rose Prince on venison chilli con carne
Chilli con carne, the cowboy’s campfire stew, is traditionally a beef or pork braise, but it is even better made with minced venison. The dark savouriness of the meat blends so well with the other ingredients: the smoky chipotle and ancho chillies, the beans and coffee. Coffee? You will, I am sure, have heard about adding chocolate to chilli and, aside from making it much richer, I am not sure how much it improves the dish. But coffee has a remarkable effect, bringing forward all the flavours.
There are dozens, even hundreds, of ways to make a chilli. Some cooks like to chop the meat into cubes rather than mince it, but I like the way that the mince has a creamy texture once braised for a couple of hours. It is important to find the right chillies but chipotle paste is sold in most supermarkets and it is easy to buy online. Ancho chillies are almost black and sold dried, usually in flakes. Again, they are available from your local supermarket.
In this recipe I have used tinned Mexican black beans, which are softer and smaller than red kidney beans, and I like to serve the chilli with cornmeal chips. You can used cooked rice or even both. But chilli — such a brilliant dish to serve for a big summer supper — is a recipe that you can adjust, strengthen and tune, adding more or less spice, chilli and other companions, until you have the feast you love the most.