Frito Pie with Venison Chili and Goat Cheese

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We made dinner for a crowd last night, and it went over pretty well. I used eight pounds of venison I had out in the freezer to make venison chili using Hattie Stillwell's recipe from the foreword of Frank X. Tolbert's masterpiece, A Bowl of Red. I added a few of my own little twists, of course, like making a dried chile puree to add to the chile powder.

We got a case of 50 one-ounce bags of Fritos at Costco and put the corn chips out on the buffet along with a crock-pot full of chili and a plate of goat cheese disks and let everybody make their own Frito Pie. There were also chopped onions, black olives and grated cheddar for Frito Pie customization. Mexican beer was served in an ice chest outside.

If you have a crowd coming over for the Super Bowl or the Olympics, you might keep this easy entertaining option in mind. Here's a venison chili recipe:

Venison Chili

You can make venison stock out of the bones and trimmings if you are cutting your own deer meat.

Serves 16

  • 2 anchos, 2 pasillas, 2 chipotles, seeded and stemmed
  • 4 cups venison or beef stock
  • 8 pounds venison, finely chopped, or ground through a chili plate
  • 2 large onions, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 2 teaspoons Mexican oregano
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 3 cups canned whole tomatoes
  • Salt and black pepper
  • Flour

Combine the dried chiles with two cups of the stock in a saucepan and heat to a boil, then turn off the heat and allow the chiles to soften for ten minutes or more. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, brown the deer meat, onion and garlic until lightly colored. Add the oregano, cumin, chili powder, tomatoes, hot pepper sauce, and remaining two cups stock. Puree the chiles and the soaking liquid in a blender until smooth. Add the chile puree to the meat and stir well. Salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer for two hours. Thicken with four tablespoons of flour dissolved in water.

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