I’m sure while I’m writing this column there are ongoing disputes among hunting aficionados as to what makes the best elk chili. Is it the use of ground elk versus chunked meat or is it a combination of the two? Some cooks prefer beans in their chili while others prefer a bean Free chili. And then there’s the question of tomatoes versus no tomatoes.
Who’s right and who’s wrong? It’s hard to say. Maybe that’s why so many cooking aficionados enter chili cookoff events putting their BEST recipe to the test. Of course, personal tastes tend to involve different types of ingredients, but at the end of the day, who doesn’t enjoy a rich and hearty bowl of chili?
My version of elk chili uses ground elk meat and plenty of it. It also incorporates common ingredients like onions, garlic, diced tomatoes, broth and red wine. The blend of seasonings adds a complex chili flavor combining mildly-hot, sweet and fruity elements to each bite.
What makes my chili unlike other recipes you might ask? I add diced sweet potatoes and hominy. You’d probably think that I was making a stew but trust me the diced sweet potatoes stay firm and take on the flavor from the thick red sauce while the hominy adds texture and subtle hints of corn flavoring to the overall base of the chili.
Garnish a bowl of this elk chili with shredded cheese, green onion, cilantro and a dollop of sour cream and you’ll find yourself cleaning out the bottom of the bowl.
Preparation Time: 45 minutes
Cooking Time: 90 minutes
- 3 – 4 pounds ground elk
- 4 tablespoons canola oil, divided
- 2 large yellow onions, chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 4 cups white sweet potatoes, peeled and ½ inch diced
- 1 (30 ounce) can white hominy, rinsed and drained
- 3 (14.5 ounce) cans petite diced tomatoes
- 3 cups beef broth
- 1 cup dry red wine
- 2 tablespoons ground cumin
- 2 tablespoons chili powder
- 1 tablespoon ancho chili powder
- 2 teaspoons oregano
- 2 teaspoons coriander
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- Shredded cheddar cheese
- Cilantro, roughly chopped
- Green onions, chopped
- Sour cream
Heat a large stock pot over medium heat and add 2 tablespoons oil. When the oil is warm add the ground elk and cook evenly until browned about 10-12 minutes. Remove from heat and drain in a separate bowl.
Add the remaining oil to the pot along with the onions and garlic cooking until the onions soften about 10 minutes. Pour in all seasonings and stir to coat the onions. Add the diced sweet potatoes, hominy and cooked elk meat. Pour in the beef broth, diced tomatoes and red wine and stir to blend.
Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Cover partially with a lid and simmer for 90 minutes allowing the flavors to combine.
Garnish the elk chili with shredded cheddar cheese, cilantro, green onions and sour cream.