Grown Up Chili
This coming Saturday I’m judging the Annual Brookhaven Chili Cook Off. In order to train my taste buds for all that amazing chili I’ll be tasting, I’m making one of my favorite chili recipes. This is just as quick and easy as my basic Beef and Bean Chili but calls for some more gourmet and possibly harder to find ingredients. If you can get your hands on good game meat, it’s well worth it. We don’t have hunters in our family, I guess you could say our men are lovers, not fighters. So I totally rely on the kindness of friends passing along a bit of their stash every year. Lucky for me, I have a constant supply of absolutely amazing smoked Venison and Boar sausage coming from Folsom, Louisiana, but ground Venison has been harder to come by. So I improvise! If I don’t have a pound of ground Venison, I’ll use half a pound of ground bison, lamb or other heavily flavored meat and use some of that venison sausage for the rest. You know I’m all about versatility and recipes that allow for creativity.
Spiced Just Right
This bowl of the ultimate chili is an all grown up gourmet fusion of savory meats bursting with a spice symphony that will leave you breathless- quite possibly if you can’t handle your spice. Remember I’m from New Orleans and I like some heat on my plate but you can always tone it down to suit your taste by leaving out the jalapeno, cayenne, red pepper flakes or all of the above. The spicy spices won’t make or break this delicious bowl of chili. In fact, this chili is so incredibly full of flavor that you wouldn’t notice if you happened to mess it up. Like this beautiful bowl you see here, I accidentally put in smoked paprika for the cumin. And I really like cumin so when I do add it to a recipe, I add it by the heaping spoonfuls. But I didn’t want quite that much paprika in this dish so in order to restore the balance of flavor, I had to throw in some cinnamon and allspice. It turned out great. So you see, I’m not perfect and many kitchen disasters can be fixed with a little bit of this or that. This chili is so good all on it’s own, no sour cream or cheese required to amp up the flavor. If you’d like, simply garnish with some fresh herbs like fresh chives.
Suggested Wine Pairings
This chili should come with a warning label because it is ultra spicy if you add the jalapeno, cayenne and red pepper as directed. In order to put the fire out in my mouth, I will often reach for a glass of something off-dry with a little bit of sweetness to counterbalance the heat. But I’m usually craving a red wine with rich meat dishes made with gamey Venison or Bison. Just steer clear of anything tannic because the spice will just make your Cabernet taste horribly bitter. Instead, look for a red with some acidity, like a Sangiovese or Dolcetto, or one with lots of rich fruit flavor and soft tannins like a delicious blend of Rhône varietals.