Pinto Bean and Venison Chili w/ Vegan Alternative
1lb Dried Pinto Beans, cleaned and soaked overnight
1lb Ground Venison (Venison/Pork Mix is fine)
2 Large Yellow Onions, medium dice
3 Garlic Cloves, minced
4 Medium, Roasted Hatch Peppers with the stem removed but seeds retained
2 tbsp Cumin Seed, dry-toasted and ground
1 tbsp Dried Oregano
2 tbsp Olive Oil
I Can of Mexican Lager
½ c Amontillado Sherry
1/3c Apple Cider Vinegar
1 tbsp Salt
2 tsp Freshly Ground Black Pepper
1 dash Peychaud’s Bitters
2 tsps Smoked Paprika (Sweet)
8c Vegetable Stock
Drain the soaked Beans and add them to a large, heavy bottomed pot. Pour in the Beer and enough of the Vegetable Stock to cover the beans. Cook the beans, adding stock as needed and stirring regularly, for about 3 hours over low heat or until they are soft with the lid slightly off of the pot. Remove from the Beans from the heat.
In a large skillet heat the Olive Oil over medium heat then add the Onions and cook until they are translucent and have begun to color. Add in the Peppers and Garlic and stir to combine. Allow to cook for a few minutes longer then add the ground Cumin, Oregano, Salt, Black Pepper and Smoked Paprika. Stir to combine and cook a few additional minutes, the mixture should become very fragrant. Add the Sherry and Apple Cider Vinegar and cook over medium-low heat until most of the liquid has evaporated.
If you are preparing this for vegan consumption then add the aromatic vegetable mixture to the beans along with the Bitters and the remaining Stock and stir it all together. Cook over low heat until the desired consistency is achieved or some of the beans have begun to break down and thicken the chili.
If you are going to use ground Venison in this dish then take your sauté pan and brown the ground meat with a little Olive Oil, then drain any excess fat or liquid and add the ground meat in when you add the aromatics. The aromatic vegetable mélange can be set aside in a bowl while you brown the meat. Both variations are pretty tasty.
I served the one with Venison over a slice of Cornbread. Everyone who lives below the Mason-Dixon Line should have their own cornbread recipe that they know by heart but I am including my Basic Cornbread recipe here just in case. I have a strong suspicion that the vegan variant would go well with some corn chips.
1c All-Purpose Flour (Unbleached preferably, just not self-rising)
1c Yellow Corn Meal
1c 2% Milk (Butter milk is a good substitute)
¼ c Canola Oil (or Bacon Fat)
4tsps Double Acting Baking Powder (make sure it’s fresh to get a good rise)
Preheat your oven to 425F with your seasoned, cast-iron skillet or Dutch oven inside. Combine all dry ingredients in one large mixing bowl, sift to combine if you feel like it, otherwise mix thoroughly. In a separate bowl add the milk and eggs and whisk to combine. If your oven had come up to temperature pour the Canola oil into the skillet and return it to the oven for about 3 minutes (less if you are using bacon fat). Then remove it and carefully coat the sides of the skillet with the now VERY hot oil. Make a small well in the dry ingredients and pour in the egg and milk combination. Add the oil from the cast-iron skillet to the large bowl that now contains all the ingredients. Mix until the consistency is even but don’t over mix or this will prevent the cornbread from rising well. Time is not on your side here as the heat from the oil will make the baking powder begin to do its thing and produce carbon-dioxide to make the bread rise. So, quickly pour the batter back into the skillet, scraping the sides to get it all in. The dough should spread out evenly but it might need a little smoothing with a spatula. Now, return the skillet to the hot oven and bake for about 25 minutes. When you remove the finished cornbread use a longish and flexible kitchen tool to loosen it from the skillet and place it on a cooling rack. If you leave it in the skillet for too long the residual heat can burn the bottom of your cornbread.