Category: Hunting

Fall Recipe: Simple Deer Venison Chili

I love cooking with deer venison. But oddly enough, no one in my entire life of what is now a couple years shy of 50 years has ever invited me hunting with them. I’ve fired seven whole rounds of ammunition, five of which were 9mm rounds all fired within 30 seconds in Navy boot camp. I’ve fished more times than I can recall and actually caught a decent-sized Pike once. But hunting? Never been there, never done that.

Knowing hunters has been a God-send though. They always seem to have more deer venison than they know what to do with. Invariably throughout the year, a few of them will send Mary and I away from a visit with pounds of the stuff. It’s simply a matter then of what to do with it.

This past Sunday Mary’s three brothers had us over to honor her birthday. At the end of the visit, those three hunters started talking about the deer venison in the freezer.

You may be wondering why I keep specifying “deer venison”. The meat of any game or hunted mammal, deer, elk, moose, boar, caribou, even certain hare, are considered venison. You yourself may have developed the habit of calling any deer meat nothing more than “venison”, but you’re actually not being specific enough.

By the end of the visit we left with a couple pounds of ground deer venison, some steaks from the same animal, and some sausages one of the guys had had made. This morning I got out the ground portions so the meat would thaw for a chili.

Here’s the thing: Deer love corn. So instead of beans I used canned corn in this batch but it would certainly be even better with fresh corn. I’m sure the corn would also be good with a chopped onion and maybe some peppers that might be sautéed in a skillet prior to mixing with the chili. But I just wanted the chili so that didn’t happen … Also, make sure to use the Spanish paprika instead of the sweeter Hungarian version. You want to compliment the chili with the other spice instead of letting the two fight. Oh, and garlic powder? Never!

Simple Deer Venison Chili
Yield: About four quarts

2 lbs ground deer venison
2 20 oz cans tomato sauce
2 15 oz cans whole kernel corn
6 Tablespoons mild chili powder
3 Tablespoons Spanish paprika
2 Tablespoons ground mustard
2 Tablespoons minced or granulated garlic
Kosher salt
Ground pepper
Olive oil

Heat a few tablesoons of the olive oil in a 6-quart pot over medium heat. When it’s hot enough, add the deer venison and some of the garlic, salt and pepper. Brown the meat gently while stirring often so it doesn’t scorch. When the meat is browned, drain it fully.

Add the tomato sauce to the pot and allow it to heat up. Add in the drained meat, let it heat up, and allow it to simmer for at least 10 minutes. Add the corn and allow it to cook 5 minutes so the corn will heat through but still be slightly crunchy. Add the spices, including enough salt and pepper to taste. Allow to cook another five minutes so the spices will develop flavor while not turning the corn to mush. Serve topped with sour cream and shredded cheddar cheese.

Recipes; As Jeff Daniels said, “It’s deer camp”


My own Tequila-Lime Venison Steaks. I know, I know … no self-respecting hunter would ever eat this with celery and carrots …

As on each and every November 15th, Michigan’s firearm deer season opened this morning. Even yesterday morning, we ran into a friend at the gas station we went to. Like many hunters here he was already on his way up to the Ludington area to establish his deer camp and be on the hunt at 12:01 a.m. today.

While a lot of states have a firearm deer season, Michigan’s is … well, hunters take an average of 450,000 deer each year in this state. The reason? Can you imagine how the deer population wuld be if they didn’t take these deer?? The source of the venison you see here, and a lot of the venison that goes through our kitchen, is a friend of my parents. One package we got from him last year held eight pounds of processed deer venison. He’d taken four animals … two without even leaving his own fenced-in back yard. He’d watched as the deer had jumped the fence to get into the yard.

Most important for this year is the $500M tourism dollars the annual hunt pumps into the state economy. With GM apparently abou ready to shut down for good, and Ford not too far behind, anything will help. Besides, the hunt helps take automotive workers’ minds off the financial problems of their employers, at least for a while.

Here are a couple simple and inexpensive recipes for deer venison. Sure, I’ve posted these before but with the season just beginning I felt these would bear repeating.

Dave’s Venison Rub

1 cup Kosher salt
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup onion powder
1/4 cup paprika
1/4 cup ground black pepper

Sift all the ingredients together, sifting multiple times to ensure everything is combined well. Make sure your game is clean and dry, and rub a generous portion of the mixture on each piece. Either smoke the game slowly at 200 degrees F, or grill it at 350 degrees F. The best way to cook it is to sear the game in extra virgin olive oil over high heat, grill or bake (at 350 degrees F) until the game is cooked to your desired doneness, then letting it rest for 5 to 10 minutes before serving.

Feel free to modify or add to this recipe, using dried and ground berries or fruits, or other items such as ground or crushed hot pepper, rosemary, thyme, etc. Even adding a small amount of hot sauce to the rub, enough to just moisten it, makes for an incredible flavor.

Dave’s Tequila-Lime Venison Steak

1 – 2 lbs deer venison
3/4 cup tequila
3/4 cup lime juice
1/4 cup orange juice
1 Tbsp minced garlic
Bottled hot sauce (Tabasco, etc.)
Kosher salt
Black pepper

Lay the deer venison on some paper towel or a lint-free cloth. Pat the meat dry and set it aside. 

In a glass mixing bowl, whisk the tequila, lime juice and orange juice together. Add the minced garlic and a few splashes of the hot sauce, and whisk again. Finally, add some of the Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper and give it all a good final whisking.

Pour some of the marinade into a flat container having a lid. Lay the deer venison in the marinade, then pour the rest of the marinade over the meat. Close the lid and refrigerate.

For stronger marinade flavor, marinade for at least three hours before grilling. For lighter marinade flavor, marinade for 30 minutes before grilling.

Note: for a much lighter marinade flavor, use 1/4 cup of each of the tequila, lime juice and orange juice.

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