Nothing spells delicious, comfort food to me quite like chili. My dad’s venison recipe could have won competitions if he’d bothered to enter. I’d come home from school on a wintry afternoon to the savory aroma of venison chili and couldn’t resist. Us kids didn’t even wait until dinner time. Our dad would ladle his perfect, authentic, bean-less chili into our bowls, sprinkle parmesan cheese over the top, and set us down to enjoy our after school “snack.”
That’s why my mouth watered as I read the Caveman Chili recipe in The Garden of Eating, and I knew I had to try it. It’s even slow cooked in the crock pot, making it ultra-convenient for busy days.
One quick note: I found the original recipe really hot, even for my heat-loving palette. I think it’s because my current batch of chili powder is spicier than normal, as the amount in the original recipe seems like it would be a perfect fit for my taste buds. I “fixed” the heat with my not-so-super-secret trick, which I will happily share with you in the recipe below.
This recipe is printed as it appears in the cookbook, The Garden of Eating, on page 300.
- 3 (5-inch strips) kelp or kombu seaweed, optional
- 2 lbs boneless grass-fed beef stew meat (you can substitute bison, pork loin, venison, bear or moose for the beef)
- 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
- 1/2 tsp unrefined sea salt
- 2 tbsp. coconut oil or cold-pressed extra-virgin olive oil (where to find REAL olive oil)
- 1 jumbo white or yellow onion, cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1 sweet red, orange, or yellow bell pepper, halved, seeded, and diced
- 2 tbsp. chili powder
- 1 1/2 tsp dried cumin
- 1 1/2 tsp dried oregano
- 1/2 tsp ground chipotle pepper
- 3 to 4 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
- 4 heaping cups cubed fresh red tomatoes
- 1 cup diced celery, optional
- 1/2 cup minced fresh cilantro or parsley leaves for garnish
- ground black pepper for garnish, optional
Pat meat dry with unbleached paper towel. Dust with pepper and sea salt, if desired. Heat the oil in a heavy skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Brown the meat on all sides.
While the meat is browning, make sure your veggies are prepped. I didn’t have any kelp on hand, so I opted to not include it and instead add an extra teaspoon of salt. Notice I subbed in green bell peppers for the sweet peppers. It will give a different flavor, but I like the colors.
Layer your browned meat and veggies in the crockpot or slow cooker.
Add your spices. Then, cover the crock pot with a lid and turn it on LOW. I made a double batch to put half in the freezer (always a good idea with recipes this easy!).
If you’re like me and can’t resist the aroma of stewing chili, you’ll occasionally stir and sample the chili as it cooks over the next 6 to 8 hours. That’s when I had my WOWSER-this-is-spicy moment. So, I did what I always do when I accidentally over-spice my chili:
I got out the molasses and dark beer. Both work wonders for reducing the heat in chili. (Sometimes I even add in about 1/4 cup of peanut butter if I don’t have any dark beer on hand.) You can hardly taste them, and they only make the flavor that more rich, subtle, and inviting. I added two tbsp. of molasses and a half a can of beer.
After 6 hours, the stew meat had fallen apart into super-tender slivers of savory chili meat. Because the chili was still just a little on the hot side, I served it with a dollop of sour cream on top. Normally, I’d do something like avocados & chopped cilantro as a garnish. But the sour cream helped take the final rough edge off my overly hot chili.
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So, now you have a fabulous new chili recipe to try. And, you also now have a few extra ideas for how to fix the spiciness of a dish if you accidentally make it too hot.