Pressure Cooker Venison Chili

Look!  Two recipes in one week!  I must be on a roll.

For those of you who may not know, I was once a professional cake decorator.  It’s a hobby now (you can find photos of some of the cakes I’ve done here on the blog if you do a search for “cake” and sift through the recipes), and I enjoy doing it – so much so that I’ve recently acquired an airbrush and a very nice caddy for my supplies.  Which beats dragging a huge box off the top of the freezer in the garage and digging through it when I need something, let me tell you.

At any rate, the son of our beef farmer is getting married this year and I offered to do the wedding and groom’s cakes.  As payment, I received a box of approximately 50 pounds of mule deer and antelope meat after their hunting trip to Wyoming last fall.

I love the barter system.

We’ve slowly been working our way through all of this wonderful game, revisiting some of our favorite venison recipes.  The antelope is just wonderful – flavorful and sweet; the mule deer, however, is a bit different from the Ohio whitetail to which we’re accustomed.  It definitely has a “gamey” flavor.  Not bad, just kind of strong.

There are things you can do to mitigate the strong, “wild” flavor typical of some game meats.  One is to soak it, either in milk or a good marinade, for several hours before cooking (coconut milk works fine if you have problems with dairy).  Another is to cook it with bold spices and other strong flavors.  I did both with this dish, soaking the venison in milk before preparing it in the pressure cooker.

The result was a spicy, complex and deeply flavored chili, without any hint of gaminess, that is simply delicious.  The coffee and chocolate were inspired additions which contributed to the rich and complex flavor, but it seemed a bit bitter when I tasted it before locking the lid on the pressure cooker, hence the addition of the honey.  You can certainly leave it out if you prefer.

Like most chili and stews, this is even better the next day.  Of course, you can use beef in place of the venison if you like.

Note: If you don’t own a pressure cooker, you can cook this in a cast iron Dutch oven (either enameled or plain) on the stove.  Once all of the ingredients have been added to the pot, cover and simmer until the meat is tender, about 1 1/2 hours, then cook uncovered for another 30 minutes or so, or until the chili has thickened to the desired consistency.

Pressure Cooker Venison Chili.  Rich, delicious chili for dinner on a weeknight?  Break out the pressure cooker!

Pressure Cooker Venison Chili
Serves: 4 to 6
  • 2 pounds venison stew meat, cut into 2″ cubes
  • 2 tablespoons grass-fed tallow
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 cup yellow onion, diced
  • 1 medium yellow bell pepper, diced
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, diced
  • 2 large jalapeño peppers, finely diced
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 4 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 3 cups beef stock, preferably homemade
  • 1 cup brewed coffee
  • 2 ounces high-quality dark chocolate, roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons honey (optional)
  1. Heat the tallow in a 4- to 6-quart pressure cooker over high heat. Sprinkle the venison liberally with salt and pepper and add to the lard; cook, stirring frequently, until the meat is nicely browned.
  2. Reduce the heat to medium and add the onions, peppers and jalapeno. Continue cooking until the onion has softened, about 5 more minutes. Stir in the remaining ingredients.
  3. Lock the lid of the pressure cooker in place and increase the heat to high until the cooker reaches full pressure (15 psi). Reduce the heat to medium, and cook for 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and do a quick release of the pressure.
  4. Carefully remove the lid from the pressure cooker. Stir; bring to a simmer and cook, uncovered, for an additional 10 to 15 minutes, or until the chili has thickened to the desired consistency. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed before serving.
  5. Nutrition (per serving): 352 calories, 13.3g total fat, 32.2mg cholesterol, 299.9mg sodium, 670.5mg potassium, 22.6g carbohydrates, 4.2g fiber, 12.4g sugar, 37.8g protein

Balsamic Glazed Venison

No post yesterday and I’m running late today – I’m just busy, busy, busy!  Part of it is I’m waiting on something to tell you all about, but it’s a bit out of my control right now so you get another recipe.

If you remember, last week I posted about the meals we were served when The Young One and I attended “Golden Flash Day” at Kent State so we could tour the College of Communication and Information and attend a seminar on financial aid (which we are in dire need of).  It was basically gluten, carbage and more gluten-y carbage, and toward the end of the post I made mention that I went back for seconds of the venison I made for dinner that night.

This is it.

Yes, I was pretty much starving, but I may have gone back for seconds anyway – something I don’t do often – because this was just delicious.  I used the last of our venison backstrap for the dish, and I’m really mourning it’s passing because I’ve decided it is in the Top 3 of my favorite cuts of meat.  Cooked properly, it is flavorful, juicy and unbelievably tender even when prepared very, very rare, and I’m a medium-rare to medium kinda gal when it comes to red meat.  Served over the celery root-pear puree, it was one of the best meals I’d eaten, ravenously hungry or not, in quite some time.  This recipe is definitely a keeper.

I know the list of ingredients is long, as are the directions, but it’s not difficult at all – you’re simply making two separate components for the dish (which I basely stole from Emeril Lagasse).  When it comes down to it, the most time-consuming part of the recipe is boiling the celery root.

Note:  If you don’t have any venison backstrap – you poor thing – this would work quite well with beef tenderloin.

Balsamic Glazed Venison. Balsamic vinegar adds a welcome tangy sweetness to the mild gaminess of tender venison backstrap.

Balsamic Glazed Venison
Serves: 4
  • 4 venison backstrap medallions, about 6 ounces each
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons ghee
  • 1 cup onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • Puree:
  • 1 pound celery root, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 1 large pear, peeled, cored, and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 4 tablespoons ghee or butter, divided
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/4 cup coconut milk or heavy cream
  • pinch nutmeg
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  1. In a large saucepan, cover the celery root with water. Bring to a boil over high heat; reduce the heat and simmer, covered, until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain.
  2. While the celery root is cooking, melt 2 tablespoons of ghee in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the pear, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the wine and continue cooking, until the pear break down and the mixture thickens. Remove from the heat.
  3. Transfer the celery root and pear mixture to a food processor. Add the coconut milk or cream and remaining 2 tablespoons of ghee and puree until smooth. Season with the nutmeg, and salt and pepper to taste. Set aside and keep warm.
  4. Season the venison on both sides with salt and pepper.
  5. Heat the ghee in a large skillet over high heat. Sear the venison until brown, about 2 minutes per side. Remove from the pan and cover loosely with foil.
  6. Reduce the heat to medium and add the olive oil and onions. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onions begin to turn golden, 4 or 5 minutes. Add the vinegar, stirring up any brown bits, and return the venison to the pan along with the accumulated juices. Cook for another 2 to 3 minutes, or until the venison is at the preferred doneness. Remove from the heat and season to taste with salt and pepper, if necessary.
  7. Divide the celery root-pear puree among 4 serving plates. Slice the venison medallions and place on the puree; drizzle with the balsamic reduction in the pan and top with the caramelized onions.
  8. Nutrition (per serving): 453 calories, 28.8g total fat, 88.5mg cholesterol, 155.8mg sodium, 750.8mg potassium, 26.1g carbohydrates, 4.3g fiber, 11.3g sugar, 19.2g protein

Venison Butternut Squash Chili

I am branching out in the chili department.

Once, I’d have scoffed at making or eating any chili other than Texas-Style Chili, but these days I’ve discovered a taste for kinds that aren’t quite so…traditional.  I’ve got a lovely chili recipe in the cookbook that uses, of all things, dark chocolate (I was surprised at how delicious it is), and I’ve even given into Cincinnati-Style Chili as of late.  So maybe it’s not a huge surprise when I decided to make chili with some of the stew meat from our deer that I threw some butternut squash and cinnamon into it.

Next thing you know I’ll be making a pork chili verde.  Which actually sounds pretty good.  Hmmmm…

At any rate, we were very pleased with this chili – cooking the butternut squash in the chili for the entire two hours gave it a rich, silky texture (without making it sweet) and the cinnamon lent it a bit of an exotic flavor that countered the smokiness of the the chili powders and paprika quite well.  All in all, it was a delicious and satisfying chili that went very well with an updated – and much better – version of my Savory Almond Flour Muffins (going in the cookbook) on a cold winter’s night last week.

No venison?  Beef stew meat will work just fine.  But keep in mind that because venison is so lean, it keeps the calorie content of this dish pretty low, especially for a chili, so use venison if you can.

Oh – and it’s Whole30 to boot.

Venison Butternut Squash Chili

Venison Butternut Squash Chili

Serves: 4
  • 2 tablespoons lard or ghee
  • 1 pound venison stew meat, cut into 2″ cubes
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 large poblano pepper, stemmed, seeded and chopped
  • 2 large jalapeno chiles, finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 4 cups beef stock, preferably homemade
  • 6 ounces [url href=”” target=”_blank”]tomato paste[/url]
  • 2 teaspoons ancho chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons chipotle chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 cups cubed butternut squash
  1. Heat the lard or ghee in a large, enameled Dutch oven over medium high heat. Add the venison to the pan and brown the meat, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium and stir in the onion, poblano and jalapenos; continue cooking for another 5 minutes, or until the onion and peppers begin to soften.
  2. Stir in the garlic, tomato paste, chili powders, cumin, cinnamon, paprika and oregano and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture becomes fragrant, about 2 minutes. Slowly stir in the beef stock and taste. Season as needed with salt
  3. and pepper, then stir in the butternut squash.
  4. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for about 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally, or until the venison is just about fork tender. Remove the lid and simmer until the mixture thickens, about 20 minutes more. Season to taste with additional salt and pepper, if necessary, and serve.
  5. Nutrition (per serving): 317 calories, 10.7g total fat, 26.5mg cholesterol, 568.7mg sodium, 1318.5mg potassium, 26.6g carbohydrates, 5.6g fiber, 10.5g sugar, 33g protein


Spicy Venison Rib Chops

Happy 2013, everyone!  I hope you and your families had a great holiday.  We took a lot of time off from work, and for me that included blogging.  Not a bad thing, since I was getting a tad burned out.  But the rest did me a lot of good, and now I’m back at it and raring to go.

We have a lot to celebrate over the holiday season, besides just Christmas and New Years, since my birthday is 3 mere days before Christmas and our wedding anniversary is, well, today.  Sadly, Beloved is out of town on business – he left yesterday – so we had to celebrate on Monday.  This is what we had for dinner.

And, ermahgerd, was it GOOD.

When we were gifted our deer, I had the option of having the ribs left in a rack and Frenched.  That’s a lot of meat for just 3 – or more often these days as The Young One goes about his own business, just 2 – so I had them cut into individual chops which my butchers kindly Frenched anyway and I just love; it’s like eating a big meat lollipop.  At any rate, I decided to serve them for our anniversary dinner along with roasted sweet potatoes and some (yes, out of season but just lovely) asparagus.

Deer is very lean and this cut is best simply prepared so I merely rubbed the chops with a spice mixture and seared them on my cast iron griddle.  I cooked them rare before resting them and the chops were just delicious – tender and juicy and flavorful, we picked the bones clean, much to the disappointment of the dog.

Spicy Venison Rib Chops

Spicy Venison Rib Chops

Serves: 2
  • 4 deer rib chops, about 3 or 4 ounces each
  • 1 tablespoon coconut sugar
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chipotle chili powder
  • pinch cayenne pepper, or to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
  • few grinds black pepper
  1. Mix the coconut sugar and spices together in a small bowl. Generously rub the chops with the spice mixture and allow them to rest at room temperature, for about an hour.
  2. Heat a large skillet or griddle over high heat until smoking and sear the chops, about a minute per side. Reduce the heat to medium and continue cooking until the chops reach an internal temperature of about 135 F, or about 3 additional minutes per side.
  3. Remove the chops to a plate or cutting board and cover loosely with aluminum foil. Allow to rest for 15 minutes before plating and serving.
  4. Nutrition (per serving): 281 calories, 6.3g total fat, 40.8mg cholesterol, 494.4mg sodium, 62.5mg potassium, 6.4g carbohydrates, <1g fiber, 3.7g sugar, 49.4g protein

Venison Steak Diane

You’ll have to excuse me if today’s post is a bit incoherent.  After many, many weeks of (fairly) good sleep, Ye Olde Insomnia has reared it’s ugly head again, and I had a pretty rough night.  If past experience is anything to go by, this will be the standard for the next several nights, until my sleep patterns smooth back out.  So the whole week may be incoherent.

Lucky you.

At any rate, I’ll try to remain lucid enough to get through what I promise will be the last venison recipe, at least for awhile.  And what a recipe!  This is going on the short list for Things I’d Eat For My Final Meal.  Yes, it is that good.

You might remember a few weeks ago I posted a recipe for Honey Mustard Venison Chops (which is really, really tasty, by the way).  The cut of meat I used for that was labeled “chops,” which I took for the loin of the deer, and likened it to filet mignon.  It turns out I was right, but for some reason it’s more commonly known as the “backstrap” – probably because that’s where the loin of the deer is located (I know; it seems odd to me too).  Anyhow, I was just thrilled to find more of the same in the package of deer meat we were gifted last week, and couldn’t wait to cook it.  But what to make?

Most recipes for venison backstrap are very simple preparations; it is apparently excellent lightly seasoned and grilled.  However, I couldn’t have been happier to run across Hank Shaw’s recipe for Venison Steak Diane, on which I’ve based this recipe, and I have to tell you – it is lick-your-plate delicious.  Which is pretty much what we did when we ate it.

Steak Diane was all the rage in the 50s and 60s, when tableside preparations of dishes were popular, especially at restaurants.  For Steak Diane, the alcohol – usually brandy, although cognac is fine and what I used – is flambéed.   I’ve done flambé before (by accident on more than one occasion) and while it’s got a bit of an “Oooohhh!” factor, it’s pretty overrated, so there will be no flambéing here.   Of course, if you want to set yourself on fire, that’s entirely up to you.

But I digress.  I believe I mentioned that we licked our plates in the process of eating this, and that’s no exaggeration – this dish is just to die for.  The meat is tender and a perfect, uniform pink throughout, and the sauce is so so so SO good.  And the best thing about it is that it’s pretty darn easy to make.

What more could you ask for?

Note:  If you don’t have the venison, beef filet is perfectly acceptable.  And probably every bit as delicious.

Venison Steak Diane

Venison Steak Diane

Serves: 2
  • 12 ounces venison backstrap, cut into four pieces about 1 1/2″ thick
  • kosher or sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons ghee or olive oil
  • 1/4 cup minced onion
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup cognac
  • 1/2 cup beef stock, preferably homemade
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1/3 cup coconut milk
  • very finely chopped parsley
  1. Generously salt the venison steaks and allow them to rest at room temperature for about 20 minutes.
  2. Heat the ghee or olive oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat for about 90 seconds; sear the steaks for one minute on each side. Reduce the heat to medium and cook the steaks for an additional 8 minutes – four minutes per side, or until the internal temperature of the steaks reaches 140 F.. Remove the venison from the skillet, tent loosely with foil and set aside.
  3. Add the onion to the pan and cook for 1 minute, then stir in the garlic and cook for another 30 seconds, taking care not to burn the garlic. Deglaze the skillet with the cognac, scraping up the brown bits in the bottom of the pan. Let the cognac cook down almost to a glaze, then stir in the beef stock, tomato paste, mustard and Worcestershire sauce. Increase the heat and bring to a boil, stirring frequently, until the sauce thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 3 minutes.
  4. Remove the pan from the heat and stir the coconut milk into the sauce. Spoon the sauce onto two plates; slice the venison steaks and arrange on top of the sauce. Garnish with the parsley and serve.
  5. Nutrition (per serving): 483 calories, 24.6g total fat, 61.2mg cholesterol, 403.3mg sodium, 553mg potassium, 12g carbohydrates, 1.3g fiber, 4.9g sugar, 40.2g protein