The weather outside is frightful! Chili is just this thing to take a bite out of the cold. I know we’ve explored Chili with all the Good Stuff! in the past. Though similar, this version is much closer to the chili my mother made, out there on the Prairie. I make us sound like the Wilder’s from “Little House on the Prairie”, don’t I? However, I don’t recall that they made chili! When my mother made chili, she used a combination of venison (which was mixed with beef fat or it is ridiculously dry) and ground pork. It’s a good combination. But nowadays, I use beef instead of the venison and that works very well, indeed. My mother was a big believer in a little bit of sweet with savory meat, so she would shred a carrot into her chili; she also added it to her meatloaf. It pretty much disappears into the chili. While the meats brown, I chop up the onions, garlic, celery, cumin seeds, bay leaves, oregano, garlic granules, and allspice. When the meats are done browning, just toss the diced veggies into the pot, give ’em a good stir and let them sauté for a couple of minutes. Then pour in the beer and water. Stir, cover and simmer for about 10 minutes. Add diced tomatoes, carrot, ketchup and Worcestershire sauce. Simmer over medium-low heat for about an hour. Add the beef base, chile powder, additional ground cumin, tomato paste, sugar, vinegar and beans. Yeah, I know…I added the beans with the carrot. Sometimes I do things out of order. It’s the rebel in me that makes me do such things. Fortunately, it isn’t too big a deal here. Simmer for an additional 30-60 minutes. Taste and correct the seasoning. This chili is very thick. That’s how we like it, but if you prefer thinner, more brothy chili, add 2-4 additional cups of water or broth. Chili is much better when made ahead, cooled for 24 hours and reheated. The Latin Lover likes chili dogs. So, The Goddess ladles the chili over hot dogs and tops them off with shredded cheese and heaps of diced raw onion. He loves raw onion. This is a knife-and-fork supper. Since bowl food is a thing these days, The Goddess decided a Chili Bowl might be a good idea. Turns out, it was really good. She poured the chili bowl over rice, then garnished it with avocado slices, diced raw onions and shredded cheddar. I added some chopped fresh cilantro and finely minced sweet peppers. Either option is delicious. And this chili is still fantastic just plain, with diced raw onion, shredded cheese and a few crackers. As I said, this was (note the past tense there) exceptionally tasty.
As I mentioned, my mother used a combination of venison and pork. Yes, we hunted. Yup, The Goddess used to hunt deer and rabbits. My father and brother hunted those, as well as doves and pheasants. The Goddess could never quite get the hang of a shotgun. Anyway, when you live in rural communities, particularly at the time I was growing up, you hunted. With all the gun violence we experience here in the US, there is a stigma attached to hunting. But I must admit, I enjoyed hunting and I love game, venison in particular. We hunted and we ate what we killed, Prairie deer, better known as mule deer, west of the Missouri river and White-tailed deer east of the Missouri river. Maybe, the fact that I grew up hunting, has affected my view of guns. I have a very healthy respect for guns. Currently we don’t hunt. We live in the city, so we don’t own any guns, because we don’t need them. But, if we did, I don’t care if the government knows I have a gun and they know what kind it is. So there! I’m putting my soap box away now and getting on with the chili….
Prairie Chili with Beans
- 1 1/2 pounds ground venison or ground beef
- 3/4 pound ground pork
- 3 onions, chopped (about 2-3 cups)
- 6-8 cloves garlic, chopped (about 1/4 cup)
- 2 ribs celery, finely chopped
- 2 teaspoons whole cumin seeds
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 3 bay leaves
- 1/2 teaspoon oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic granules
- 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1 28-ounce diced, fire-roasted tomatoes
- 1 bottle beer (lager-I used Beck’s™)
- 2 cups water
- 1 carrot, finely shredded
- 2 tablespoons ketchup
- 1 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tablespoons beef base paste
- 1-2 teaspoons light chile powder
- 2-3 teaspoons ground cumin
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 3-4 teaspoons cider vinegar
- 2 15-ounce cans kidney beans, rinsed and drained*
- 3-4 cups water or broth (optional)
*You can use either light or dark kidney beans or pinto beans
Brown the meat in a heavy-bottomed pot; use a good-sized one. When the meat is browned, drain all but 2 tablespoons of fat from the meat. Add the onions, garlic, celery, beer, water, cumin seeds, oregano, garlic granules, and allspice. Cover and simmer for about 10 minutes. Add diced tomatoes, carrot, ketchup and Worcestershire sauce. Simmer over medium-low heat for 1 hour. Add the beef base, chile powder, ground cumin, tomato paste, sugar, vinegar and beans. Simmer for an additional 30-60 minutes. Taste and correct the seasoning. This is much better when made ahead, cooled for 24 hours and reheated. Serve over hot dogs, for a knife-and-fork supper, or a chili bowl with rice, garnished with avocado, diced raw onions and shredded cheddar.
NOTE: If you want a “soupier” chili, add the additional water as desired.
Prairie Chili with Beans Recipe©Marcia Lahens 2018. All rights reserved.