For longer than I’ve been on the planet, my dad has hunted. I remember racing outside to check the back of his pickup truck every time he pulled in the driveway after a morning in the woods. Helping him bring the deer into the garage if he got one. Being in awe of just how big an animal they are up close. I remember when I finally got my first deer and a batch of venison chili was made from it. I was proud as hell to be the one feeding the family. Ironically, and for reasons beyond my control, I didn’t hunt for many years after that day.
Fast-forward two decades, a few kids, a divorce, and a new lease on life. I found my way back into the woods and have had many successful seasons. That success marked the return of venison chili, but now in my own kitchen. This recipe has evolved over years of mixing batch after batch of the stuff for homecoming football parties, family gatherings, and kids that are now eating me out of house and home. It smells, tastes, and looks like a killer pot of chili should. It fills all the spaces it should. And it’s even won an audience choice award (that I had no idea I even entered) at Bristol Mountain’s Spring Carnival. So there’s that, too.
- Matt Smythe: Freelance Writer
Pour one can each of chili beans and black beans into a 3-gallon pot. Drain and add one can each of corn and red beans. Add all diced tomatoes. Drain and add banana peppers. Stir.
Add second can of chili and black beans.
Drain and add second can of corn and red beans and tomato paste. Brown sausage in two pans. Be sure not to overcook in order to keep the meat tender. Stir meat into the mix (do not drain – it’s a lean meat and the juices help set-up the chili’s thickness). Press 3 cloves of garlic into pot. Add enough chili powder to cover surface of the mix, stir and add 3 more shakes. Add onion powder (for taste, not substance), and roughly 6 shakes
of cinnamon. Stir thoroughly. Heat pot on medium for one hour, stirring frequently. Don’t let
the bottom burn.
Grab Genny by the can. Add about half of the tall-boy, cover and let chili simmer for three hours, stirring every 15 minutes. Drink the rest of that can, and settle into a second one. Serve chili topped with cheddar cheese, sour cream, and Frito’s (in that order). Get a big spoon. Open and place another Genny within reach. Turn on the game.
This is one in a series of posts about our project, called The Table—a cookbook full of favorite recipes, and the images and stories that go with them, from each member of the Brandtatorship team past and present. From breakfasts to entrées, desserts to cocktails, we’ll be unveiling new recipes to this page throughout the year. If you'd like a cookbook, please contact us. In the meantime, pull up a chair. We’re glad to have you.
Photo credit: Rich Brainerd Studios