Venison Chili Debate: With or Without Beans?

This pot of hot chili has beans and tomato sauce, both a point of contention in the chili world. What's your take on ingredients to use in venison chili?

This pot of hot chili has beans and tomato sauce, both a point of contention in the chili world. What’s your take on ingredients to use in venison chili?

One of the biggest debates when it comes to chili aficionados involves ingredients, and of course that spans the gamut from ground or chunked meat to the best spices and even the inclusion or exclusion of beans.

Joe Graham hunts Texas hill country and is in the camp of 'venison chili without beans.'

Joe Graham hunts Texas hill country and is in the camp of ‘venison chili without beans.’

Whoa, beans? That’s a thing for chili folks? Doesn’t chili always have beans in it? If not, isn’t it just warmed up meat sauce?

Joe Graham of Texas let us know on Facebook that proper Texas chili doesn’t have beans or tomatoes in it. Graham hunts in the Texas Hill County and said he got his chili recipe “from a very old San Antonio newspaper over 25 years ago. Don’t recall how old the paper was when I found it. According to the article, it dates back to the 1800’s when vendors sold it on the streets of San Antonio.”

Graham said if suet is unavailable he uses fat trimmed from beef steaks. His chili definitely sounds good.

Anyone else want to wade in on the Beans vs. No Beans debate? Let’s hear it.

Texas Red Chili
1/8 pound suet, finely chopped
3 pounds round steak … coarsely chopped (venison is leaner & works much better)
6 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon ground oregano
1 tablespoon crushed cumin seed (best to crush them just before use)
1 tablespoon salt
1/2 to 1 tablespoon cayenne
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon Tabasco pepper sauce (if you dare)
1 1/2 quarts water
3 tablespoons masa harina (can substitute 1/2 cup white cornmeal)

Ask butcher for suet. In Dutch oven, fry suet until crisp, add steak cubes and brown. Add all seasonings and water and heat to boil.

Reduce heat, cover and simmer 1 1/2 hours. Skim off fat.

Stir in masa (or cornmeal) and simmer, uncovered for 30 minutes. It works best to make a paste with the masa from the hot liquid and then stir it into the pot slowly. This helps prevent lumping. Stir occasionally.

Great with cornbread on the side.  Makes 8-10 servings.

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