This is a specialty dish for bandidos, pirates, and other ne'er-do-wells.
Never attempt to serve this dish in polite company!
Deer season in Texas opens in November, so it is often eaten in the dead of winter, when the chill drifts down from Oklahoma to mix with the hot breath of the Gulf; when a damp fog squats on the freeways, and the greasy mesquite and cedar smoke makes its languid way past the bird's nests in the chimneys to perfume the leafy sidewalks.
The best time for it, though, is at the height of summer. When the shade of the tall oaks can't relieve the sweltering heat, the endorphins released by this potion induce a kind of delerious ecstasy...
with a goodly dollop of bacon grease
in the bottom of a dutch oven
. Chop a big yellow onion
and cook it in the grease till the pieces are transparent. Use plenty of onion
, but don't say "saute
", or you'll break the spell.
When that's hot and redolent, add about three pounds of coarsly ground venison. Some people like to sweeten and fatten the mix with some pork, and some people roll the meat in flour, but I just add venison. Add some comino right away, so it smells better. As the meat starts to brown, add lots of chili powder, black pepper, and some more comino.
Note: Prepared "chili powder" is almost never hot. In fact, it usually has very little flavor, except that of the comino that it contains. Nonetheless, it is a vital ingredient. Without it, chili would not have the tupperware-staining redness necessary for its proper enjoyment. Use plenty of chili powder.
Just before the meat is completely browned, throw in some pequin peppers, just cut in half or mashed with a big knife. If you have no access to pequins, I suppose you might try immature habañeros, but you really should use pequins in this recipe. Throw in some garlic, oregano or whatever might be good.
Add enough beef broth to submerge the meat. Once that boils, add a handful of anaheim and/or poblano peppers, a half-dozen chopped serranos, and whatever secret ingredients you have handy. Rattlesnake heads, lugnuts, and prickly pears are sometimes used, but I consider such things gilding on the lilly. Do NOT add tomatoes. If it's not red enough, add more chili powder.
At this point, the die is cast. Your pot should have the look, feel, and smell of an exquisite chili by this time. The taste, though, can still be adjusted. Add some salt now, some mashed garlic. Is there enough comino? Does it need a little hit of vinegar for punch? A bay leaf? Even Mustard, perhaps? Be careful not to go too far. In any case, add more pequins and serranos.
Cook it for a long time. When you need more liquid, add beer. Many Texans use Shiner Bock, but I think it's too sweet for this dish. I recommend Negro Modelo. Add some more serranos.
Fifteen minutes or so before you think it's time to serve, add a bunch of sliced (fresh - never pickled) jalapeños. They are sweet and juicy to bite into, and they add the immediate rush of heat that you need to compliment the slow burn of the pequins. Don't be tempted to thicken your chili with corn masa, as some recipes advise. If it's too thin, just let it cook a while longer. Add some pequins.
Serve this chili in a nice heavy earthenware bowl, with lots of crackers within easy reach. The perfect drink to accompany this dish in the winter, or whenever you are indoors, is milk. Outside, especially in summertime, serve iced tea, very cold beer, or sangria.