*Sorry--I only remembered to take a picture after we had all eaten!*
I've become quite fond of making chili these days. I don't think I've made the exact same one twice this winter, but keep working on a theme. I've come to realize that if you have the time, using dried beans in chili really makes a difference. You don't have to pre-soak them if you have 2-3 hours to let the chili (or soup, or whatever deliciousness is gracing your dutch oven) cook. You just toss them into the hot pot and let 'em rip! They add a natural thickness to the chili without having to add anything or reduce the chili all that much. Not to mention, they have much less sodium and are just tastier sometimes!
I also added hominy to this, which is one of my favorite things in the world. Hominy is a staple in a lot of Southern and Mexican cooking, and adds a great thickness and flavor to chili, soup, and stew. You can find it in a can, and I add the whole shebang to this chili. Though hominy is not ACTUALLY a whole grain, it's a very healthy carb! If you've ever had Posole, you've had hominy. And if you've ever been to that amazing speakeasy Manifesto in Kansas City, you've hopefully eaten the insanely wonderful fried hominy. (Something I hope to replicate someday...)
I don't mind tooting my own horn and telling you it was freaking amazingly delicious. I mean, so good that I had seconds, and it wasn't like I had a very small bowl to begin with! All in all, it was healthy(ish.) Venison is a very lean meat, and aside from the added fat to make it into sausage, everything else was super good for you! Veggies, beans...how bad could that be, right?
It's not snowing right now, but we're supposed to get a bit more before it's over, and I don't see us leaving the house today. So the real question is, what the heck am I going to make to top this??
Venison Slow-Cooking Chili
1 pkg (4 medium links) venison sausage (or any kind you'd like to use), cut into half-moons
2 TBSP olive oil
1 large yellow or spanish onion, diced
5 medium cloves of garlic, grated or minced
1 large red bell pepper, diced
1 poblano pepper, diced
1 TBSP dried oregano
2 TBSP red pepper flakes
1 TBSP coriander
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp rosemary
salt and pepper
1 medium bodied beer (I used Abita Amber)
1 28oz can hominy, drained
6-8 cups chicken stock (about 2 boxes)
1/2 C dried cannellini beans
In a large, heavy bottomed, preferably dutch oven pot, heat 1 TBSP olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the sausage, and cook until fat is rendered, about 5 minutes. (This will change depending on the kind of sausage you use.)
Remove sausage with a slotted spoon, and set aside. Lower heat to medium-low.
Add onion, both peppers to the pan. If the veggies look a bit dry (again, depending on the amount of fat your meat gave off) add another drizzle of olive oil. Cook 5-6 minutes, until veggies are softened.
Add garlic, stir, cook another minute.
Add spices, salt and pepper, and stir. Let cook 1 minute.
Raise heat to medium-high, and add beer to deglaze. Stir up all the bits of brown stuff from the bottom of the pot. Let beer cook down, about 3-4 minutes.
Add hominy, stir.
Add chicken stock, stir.
Add beans. stir.
Let chili come up to a bubble and lower heat to very low.
Place lid on pot and cook for 2 1/2-3hrs, checking and stirring every once in a while.
When beans are cooked and tender, remove lid and continue cooking for about 30 minutes, if you want chili to reduce a bit more. (It should reduce by 1/4 by the time you serve.)
Serve with crusty bread or tortilla chips--I used these incredible multigrain chips.
Drizzle with a bit of balsamic vinegar and hot sauce and serve. (J added sour cream, of course.)
If you're looking for a glass of wine on your snowy chili day, I'd reach for a Malbec to go with this. The spice will go wonderfully with the mild heat of the chili, and the salt will balance it all out. Or, try a Carmenere, which is a bit more mellow.