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Venison chilli recipe

The perfect alternative to a traditional chilli, the warming flavours of Rowley Leigh's chilli recipe are perfectly offset by the sharp sour cream
Simon Bajada

Allegedly created by President Lyndon B Johnson when he was told he had to cut down on cholesterol, this is a cracking way to cook venison, the gamey flavour well offset by the not-too-fiery chilli. The accompaniments of sour cream, tortillas and chopped spring onions are near essential. The dried chillies give an earthy, richer dimension to the chilli heat: which ones you deploy are not, frankly, critical.



2 dried ancho chillies
1 dessertspoon cumin seeds
1 onion, finely chopped
6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 fresh chillies, finely chopped
100ml sunflower or similar oil
1.5kg diced stewing venison
1tsp chilli powder
500g tin chopped tomatoes
1 dessertspoon dried (or fresh chopped) oregano

To serve

Pilaf rice and sour cream
6 spring onions, chopped
Bunch fresh coriander
Tortilla chips or other crackers
  1. Method

    Step 1

    Soak the dried chillies in a bowl of cold water. In a heavy, large, dry casserole dish, roast the cumin seeds on a high heat until they give off a strong, toasty aroma. Pour these seeds into a mortar or blender and grind to a powder.

    Step 2

    In the casserole, stew the onion, garlic and fresh and dried chillies with 2tbsp of the oil. Remove from the heat. In a separate frying pan, fry the venison in batches in 2tbsp oil, colouring each side and then adding to the aromatics in the casserole. Once all the meat is sealed, add the chilli powder, tomatoes and oregano to the casserole, with just enough water to cover. Bring to a gentle simmer and skim off any scum that rises to the top and, later in the cooking process, any oil or fat.

    Step 3

    The stew will need 2½ hours to cook properly and it will be improved by being cooked the day before and then being reheated for 30 minutes

    Step 4

    before serving the next day. The meat should be beginning to break up into a ragu. Serve with pilaf rice, a bowl of sour cream, a bowl of spring onions, the coriander and the tortilla chips.