“The aroma of good chili should generate rapture akin to a lover’s kiss.”
Cold winter days are spent standing in the puget sound, casting for coastal sea run cutthroat trout or chest deep in Oregon rivers swinging spey for wild Steelhead. Growing up a Pacific Northwest Girl, I always assumed outdoor activities happened rain or shine. Fishing in these harsh conditions yield smaller takes and hours of solitude in freezing temps. Something I’ve become quite fond of.
Given the lack of sunshine and several birds from my fall hunts still in the freezer, I was yearning for something hot and smoky to warm me up after hours spent in damp rivers and salt water.
My favorite chili has always been the ones without beans. By combining fresh ground pheasant with chipotle, you end up with an earthy-sweet heat that is unforgettable. I prefer using a red ale for this because of it’s flavor, but a porter would also be a fine substitute. Serve this with fresh cornbread and all your favorite fixings.
Chipotle Pheasant Chili // Serves 8
Inspired by Michael Symon
2 tablespoons good quality oil
3 pounds ground pheasant or chicken
Coarse ground sea salt
1 large onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 red bell peppers, diced
1/4 cup ancho chile powder
1/4 cup ground cumin
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 bottles of Red Ale, IPA, or Porter
1 15 ounce can diced tomatoes, with juices
2 cans chipotles in adobo, pureed with sauce
1 habanero chile
Bunch of Cilantro, Avocado, and Sour Cream (to garnish)
In a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat, add the oil and begin browning the meat. Season with salt and brown, about 10 minutes. Remove from the Dutch oven with a slotted spoon and set aside.
Return the Dutch oven to the heat, add onion, garlic, bell peppers, and another pinch of salt. Cook until aromatic, but not caramelized, 3-5 minutes. Add the ancho chile, cumin, and paprika and cook 30 more seconds. Add tomato paste, and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds.
Deglaze the pot with beer, scraping up browned bits with a wooden spoon. Let simmer until reduced by one-third. Return the meat to the pot along with the tomatoes, chipotles and habanero, stirring to incorporate. Simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally, for about 30 minutes, or until it reaches a thick consistency. Garnish with fresh avocado and cilantro, serve with cornbread. Enjoy!