November 2017
Your Next Meal From the Wildside

Chili season is finally here!

Whether with beef, chicken, turkey, or game there is nothing like a spicy bowl of chili to warm up a cool day.


As Rolley Len, Cason and I walked into the house, we got the scent of a savory aroma. I was looking for the crockpot, but there was nothing on the kitchen counter, on the stove or even in the oven. It took me a few minutes, but eventually I found the treasure giving such a flavorful scent. There was a huge, freshly made pot of chili in the refrigerator. The time had finally come. Fall had officially arrived.

We love chili, but we don’t make it as often as I would like, mostly because we live in an area where fall comes late and winter doesn’t last very long. Although I could eat chili year round, my husband, Jason, firmly believes chili should not be cooked or consumed until the temperature drops below at least 70 degrees. He does have a point. Eating steaming hot, spicy foods in the summertime when you are trying to stay cool seems counterproductive.

One of the great things about chili is that there are so many ways to make it. According to the International Chili Society, chili has been around for hundreds of years; so people have had a long time to perfect the dish. As long as you have a meat combined with some kind of chili peppers and spices, you have a chili. The range of meats you can incorporate is almost endless: sirloin, chicken, turkey, hamburger or, of course, deer meat.

I found a recipe for Rocky Mountain Chili calling for elk meat. The directions for Rocky Mountain Chili are almost as simple as those for our own home recipe for deer chili. The biggest difference is in the number of ingredients and flavors. Although the ingredients list almost adds up to 20 items, many are spices and staples most families keep in their pantry.

I have used brown sugar in chili, but I have never experimented with flavors such as chocolate and coffee. It sounds like it would add a lot of depth to the flavor of the chili. What could be better than the flavor combination of chili, chocolate and coffee on a cold winter night?

As the temperature drops, our large pots and crockpots will be put to good use making batches of chili, both slow-cooked and quicker, shortcut versions. Either way, now that fall has finally made it to Little Texas, we will be having regular chili suppers as long as the weather stays chilly.



4 strips bacon, diced
5 pounds ground elk (or ground deer meat)
2 Tablespoons light brown sugar
4 Tablespoons ground cumin
2 Tablespoons ancho chili powder
2 Tablespoons chili powder
2 Tablespoons sweet paprika
2 Tablespoons smoked paprika
1 Tablespoon ground coriander
1 Tablespoon kosher salt, plus more as needed
2 medium yellow onions, diced
6 medium garlic cloves, finely chopped
4 cups brewed coffee
2 Tablespoons bittersweet (70 percent) chocolate, broken into pieces
2 (28-ounce) cans crushed tomatoes
3 chipotles in adobo sauce, finely chopped
1 bay leaf
2 (15-ounce) cans kidney beans, drained and rinsed
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

In a large pot over medium heat, cook bacon until fat renders (about 5 minutes). Add meat and brown over medium-high heat (about 8 minutes).

Add brown sugar, cumin, chili powders, paprikas, coriander and salt. Stir to mix throughout the meat evenly. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until spices are a deep brown (about 10 minutes). Add onions and garlic. Cook until onions are just beginning to caramelize (about 10 minutes).

Add coffee, chocolate, tomatoes, chipotles and bay leaf. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 2 hours.

Add beans and black pepper. Simmer uncovered for 30 more minutes. Stir occasionally.

(Recipe from Chowhound)



1 large onion, chopped
3 teaspoons minced garlic
4 Tablespoons salt (more as needed for taste), divided
1½-2 pounds ground deer meat
1½ (10½-ounce) cans beef broth
1 can Rotel tomatoes
2 teaspoons paprika
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon oregano
1-2 cans kidney beans (we only use 1 can)
1 can tomato sauce
4 pours Louisiana Hot Sauce (more as needed for taste)
1 Tablespoon cayenne pepper

In a large skillet, combine onion, garlic, about 1 teaspoon of salt and deer meat. Brown meat. Drain when cooked through. In a large crockpot, combine meat mixture and remaining ingredients. Cook on high for 4-5 hours.



2-4 Tablespoons olive oil
2 bunches green onions, diced
2-4 pounds ground deer meat
1 teaspoon (each) crushed red pepper, black pepper, cayenne pepper (if desired, ancho pepper, chipotle pepper)
1-2 Tablespoons cumin
1 Tablespoon (each) cocoa, cinnamon
4 cans diced tomatoes
2 cans chicken broth
2 cans Great Northern beans or black-eyed peas
Juice two limes
1 can chopped green chilies
Cilantro, chopped
¼ cup (each) vinegar, brown sugar
White rice, prepared by package directions

In very large pot over medium-low heat, heat oil. Add onion. Sauté for 10 minutes. Add deer meat. Increase heat and brown until cooked through. Add peppers, cumin, chocolate, cinnamon, tomatoes and chicken broth. On low heat, simmer for 60-90 minutes. Add beans, lime juice, chilies, cilantro, vinegar and brown sugar. Heat through. Serve over white rice with choice of toppings.

Note: Because of my family’s busy schedule, we usually take as many shortcuts in the kitchen as possible. This recipe has a lot going on, but it sounds absolutely delicious. I plan to try it when we are on break over the holidays.


Christy Kirk is a freelance writer who lives in Little Texas.