I know some people have mixed feelings about hunting. But if you are going to be a meat eater and/or a locavore, then you might want to support your responsible local hunters. Because the truth is, there is not much that's more spiritual than eating meat that was raised in the wild and free on your own land and killed gently by a clean shot with a bow and arrow. We are very fortunate that the editor of Bowhunter magazine, Christian Berg, is a friend of ours and hunts on our land. What do we get out of it? We get our rapidly expanding herd of deer managed responsibly and gently, we get some wood chopped and paths cleared and patrolled, and we get a few pounds of deer meat. It's a wonderful cycle of trading and bartering that feels as old as humanity.
So here is my autumnal venison chili recipe, which can be made any time of year with ground beef or bison too. I made this last week with the last of my pepperoncini peppers from the garden, the last few tomatoes, and garlic and onion from the garden as well. Sometimes, when small kids don't like the sound of chili as a food, I call it Cowgirl Soup. But this time, I didn't have to. They all ate it and loved it. (I don't make it spicy, for their sakes, but given my druthers it would be so hot your ears would pop!)
¼ cup olive oil
1 or 2 pounds ground venison or other meat
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 Tablespoon salt
24 ounces strained tomatoes (I prefer Bionature, in a glass jar)
A few tomatoes from your garden, if you have them
25 ounces kidney beans
15 ounces other beans, such as pinto, great northern, or black
3 cloves garlic
1. Put the olive oil and meat in a cast-iron enamel pan (like Le Crueset) on your stovetop. Cook the meat until it's nice and browned. (You need that olive oil because deer meet is very lean).
2. Add the cumin, chili powder, and salt.
3. Throw in the chopped peppers, garlic, and celery and cook it up.
4. Add the tomatoes, tomato sauce, and beans, and throw in the whole onion (with the skin off).
5. Cook for about 15 minutes and you're good to go!
This serves about 6 to 8 people. I made it with Cheesy Cowgirl Cornbread, and it was eaten all up!
For more from Maria Rodale go to www.mariasfarmcountrykitchen.com.