Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Venison Chili (this may be a bit graphic)

I made venison chili this weekend it was quite an adventure.

A few weekends ago my Uncle Brian ventured to Austin, TX for a hunting trip with my cousin. He shot his first white tail deer and a hog which made him quite a proud man. Now, I'm not all for hunting. I respect hunting the way I respect car mechanics. I know nothing about cars but I complete respect the mechanic because he can do something I can't. I respect hunting and find it interesting but for now I just can't see myself shooting an animal. While I was out to visit my cousin the following weekend we were given the task of completeing the process which involved skinning and quartering the deer and hog. When my cousin objected to cleaning the animals while I was there my uncle said, "ah, Caitie can do it. She's a country girl. She'll like it." He was right about two things: yes, I could do it (I'll try almost everything at least once) and yes, I am a country girl at heart but no, I did not like it.

I caught a trout on a fishing trip a couple years ago and almost cried when we had to clean it because it's heart was still beating when we took it out of its body. I soon got over it and made a trout omelet with feta cheese and tomatoes. But the trout I caught was about 8 inches long and I had to refrain from naming it. This deer was big and so was the pig. I didn't name either of them. My job was to cut the membrane between the skin and the meat while the hide was being pulled off the animals and to help take the meat off the bones of the deer. I tried not to think about while I was doing it so it wasn't that bad but the smell of blood stayed in my nostrils for a week and the images of carcasses are ingrained in my brain. It's definitely a different world, different from my quaint little bubble on Balboa Island. The least appealing parts were cleaning the shoulder of the deer where it had been shot because a lot of blood had coagulated there so it was a bit of a drippy mess. Cleaning the hog. He was smelly and had mush for a head because that's where he was shot. Also, holding the legs as they were sawed off.

The adventure continued after we claimed the meat. We took the hide to the taxidermist where it will be mounted on a pretty shoulder mount for my uncle to add to his taxidermied animal collection. Also, after I put in all that hard work skinning and quartering that deer I wasn't going to go home without a reward. I packed up a cooler bag with venison to take on the plane with me back to California because how often does anyone get fresh venison in California? I was very surprised when airport security didn't blink an eye at my pink cooler bag filled with frozen meat. I actually had more trouble finding a butcher shop in the area to grind my meat. After going to several local grocery stores to find they won't process meat that's not USDA certified I found the Beef Palace in Huntington Beach where a few nice gentlemen did the job. For dinner on Sunday night I made venison which was very well received!

I used this recipe for venison trail chili and slightly modified it to include canned tomatoes, venison cheddar jalapeno sausage and no basil or extra water.

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