Chili: Time To Empty Your Freezer

Who doesn’t love chili? Chili is one of the best camp foods ever. I can’t imagine not having a bowl of chili while coming back from a cold day in the deep woods. Chili is the perfect way to utilize all your less tender cuts of game meat, fine or coarse grind, even small diced meat. Chili is easily prepared on an open fire, in Dutch Ovens, in the oven, on an open range, in crock pots, pressure cookers, and more. Chili is an excellent reheat food as well and after 24 hours, the flavors marry well and always taste better. Accompaniments to compliment chili vary as much as the ingredients; onions, cheese, rice, corn chips, tortillas, corn bread and much more.

Chili is probably one of the most popular and oldest one-pot comfort foods found across the country. You can find some form of chili on more than 75 percent of America’s restaurant menus. Chili has Spanish origins using southwest indigenous ingredients. Chili is a culinary prepared dish and chilies are specific types of chili peppers. Chili powder is a spice blend of varieties of ground chili peppers and spices. There are as many chili recipes as there are different types of chili peppers. Every region of the southwest incorporates the local indigenous ingredients, which result in thousands of types and variations and distinct flavors of the final product.

Chili has many different stories of its origins and many versions of what are considered classical ingredients. There are many variations; chili meat only, white chili, red chili, green chili, with or without beans, red beans, black beans, white beans. The combinations are endless. My mom used to substitute elbow macaroni for the beans. It worked great to balance the flavor and, in those days, it stretched the meat to go further for the five of us at the dinner table.

I’m not going to debate the topics of origins, ingredients, definitions, etc. I’ll let you make those decision and choices. What I want to focus on is how to utilize your game to maximum efficiency. It’s time to empty your freezer of all that game meat that has not been used up and to clear space for this year’s catch. Whether it be bear, boar, gator, or turkey, pheasant, duck, or deer, all of these meats can be prepared into a delicious chili for all seasons of the year. Time to use these dishes to entertain for special sports events, when you and your hunting buddies gather to put in for your permits, outdoor picnics, and many other special occasions.

 I’m not going to debate the topics of origins, ingredients, definitions, etc. I’ll let you make those decision and choices.  What I want to focus on is how to utilize your game to maximum efficiency.  It’s time to empty your freezer of all that game meat that has not been used up, time to make room for this year’s catch. Whether it be bear, boar, gator, or turkey, pheasant, duck, or deer. All of these meats can be prepared into a delicious chili for all seasons of the year. Time to use these dishes to entertain for special sports events, when you and your hunting buddies gather to put in for your permits, outdoor picnics, and many other special occasions.  

There are many other uses for the chili other than eating straight up, chili can be used in tacos, enchiladas, served in chili pie, the uses are endless. If you are really into chili, you will more than likely start to develop you own recipes for chili powder spice blends, which can be made and stored in advance. If you really want to pursue chili with a passion, visit the International Chili Society website, find recipes and competition rules, official definitions, etc. Go for it!

Here are three recipes to get started, a red, green, and white chili. Each recipe uses a different meat which can very easily be substituted, they have very different ingredients, resulting in very different flavor profiles. 

It seems like I am the cook whenever we are in hunting camp and I like to hunt as much or more than the next guy. To use my time wisely in camp and to save energy I prepare the chili at home, bag and freeze, heat up in camp after a long day of packing out elk and enjoy family and friends around the fire. 

 

Good Cooking, Chef Wutsch 

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