Elk Chili

I have the good fortune of having been born into a family of prolific hunters (read: unemployed men with guns).  My dad uses this as currency, bartering venison for visits with his grandson. He can never simply tell me he wants to see Zephyr. Instead, “I got some elk I wanna bring over.”

Thing is, he saves all the good parts for himself. Or, so he thinks.

My dad always brings me the grisly bits: stew meat laced with sheets of silverskin, mostly. I usually end up feeding these through a meat grinder to make Bolognese, but since purchasing my beloved countertop pressure cooker (opting to reserve my 23 qt behemoth for canning), I decided I’d prepare chili with steaky bites instead.

I used the cooker’s sauté function to brown some onions, garlic and jalapeños and to get a little Maillard on the meat. I tossed in unmeasured pinches and shakes of cumin, cinnamon, freshly-ground dried anchos, Mexican oregano, paprika (smoky Spanish pimentón and hot Hungarian), onion powder, salt and pepper. Brown, sizzle. Then, some magic: chile-pork broth from the freezer – viscous and nearly aspic when thawed, saved from a recent pressure-cooked pork butt (who’d ended up in a pozole). I added a half a small can of tomato paste for body and set the lid of the pressure cooker tight. High Pressure; 60 minutes.

When my little kettle beeped its song, “I’m ready, Mother!” and the pressure spewed out steam and last bits of water spittle from its little chimney-gauge, I added some pinto beans (thawed from frozen, previously cooked in the same pressure cooker on a Very Productive Day) and kicked it to the simmer function. When warmed through, I adjusted the seasoning.

Serve with fluffy, honey-cheddar cornbread. And for some of you, what probably looks like way too much cheese. This bowl of goodness probably won’t be winning any beauty contests. And these hastily-shot photos won’t be gracing any of our beloved, traffic-spiking food porn sites any time soon. But you know what? Who gives a shit.

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