As regular readers of the Pigeon Cottage blog will know, I’m having a bit of a love affair with venison at the moment. It has a wonderfully rich, meaty flavour, it’s lower in fat and cholesterol than beef and it has a higher iron content. I published my recipe for Suffolk Venison Pie a few weeks ago and this is my latest favourite: *Suffolk Venison Chilli with Black Beans. Once you’ve tasted this, you’ll find a chilli made with beef quite bland by comparison. The spicy flavour kick comes from the roasted cumin and chilli flakes; the touch of dark chocolate added towards the end (very common in Mexican dishes) gives it extra body and richness.
- 500g Suffolk venison (I source mine from Jim Allen at Discover Venison) – minced or cut into chunks
- 150g black beans – soaked overnight and cooked thoroughly as per the packet instructions, or a 400g tin of black beans
- 1 x 400g tin of tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons of rapeseed oil
- A generous tablespoon of tomato purée
- 3 fresh bay leaves
- 3 medium onions, chopped
- 2 sticks of celery, finely chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic, peeled, crushed and finely chopped
- 1 level tablespoon of cumin seeds
- 2 teaspoons of dry roasted cumin (dry roast a handful of cumin seeds in a frying pan for a few minutes and then grind them finely. Store the remaining powder in a screw-top jar to use in curries or another chilli)
- 1/2 teaspoon of chilli powder
- 1/2 teaspoon of chilli flakes
- 1 ancho chilli – soaked and chopped
- 1 organic beef stock cube made up with 50ml of boiling water
- 1 small square of dark chocolate – 70%+ cocoa solids (Green & Black’s or similar quality)
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Sea salt
- Preheat the oven to 150C.
- Heat the oil in a cast-iron ovenproof casserole and gently sauté the onions, garlic and celery until soft and translucent.
- Add the cumin and chilli and cook through for a few minutes to release the flavour.
- Add the venison and brown lightly.
- Pour in the tinned tomatoes, tomato purée, and stock. Stir through and bring to a simmer.
- Add the bay leaves and the black beans now if you’re using the soaked-overnight kind. Put the lid on your casserole and leave to cook gently in the oven for approximately an hour and a half.
- Check after an hour. The sauce should be thickening nicely. If you’re using tinned beans, you can add them now. Check the seasoning and adjust with freshly ground black pepper and salt. Cook for another 30 minutes.
- Just before serving, add the chocolate and stir until melted.
- Serve with Matzo crackers, flatbread, cornbread or rice as you prefer. It’s also excellent spooned over a baked potato.
*This recipe first appeared in the Food and Drink section of The Bury Free Press.
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