It’s a good job I have friends who hunt because buying elk meat can be prohibitively expensive.
So with many thanks to my hunting friends, I have a generous supply of elk steak and burger meat in my freezer. Deliciously lean and not overly game-y tasting, it makes an excellent chili.
There are more chili recipes in existence than days of the year and some can be complicated. I prefer to keep things simple, using really good organic ingredients when possible.
Serving chili in a roasted acorn squash is always a great idea; first of all there’s less washing up and secondly, you get to eat the bowl which happens to be delicious. Of course you can just serve it in regular bowls over rice if you prefer and as for the topping, I don’t particularly like shredded American cheese but a good dollop of sour cream, topped with an avocado, cilantro, lime, chili and red onion salsa, fits the bill perfectly.
Use salsa from a jar if you’re pushed for time.
1 1/4lb (half a kilo approx.) of ground elk meat or lean beef
2 rashers of nitrate-free organic bacon (streaky)
I medium onion, finely chopped
2 fat cloves of garlic, minced
1 tablespoon of fresh oregano
1 teaspoon of ground dry-roasted cumin seeds
1 heaped tablespoon of tomato paste/puree
Two 14.5 oz (411g) cans of chopped tomatoes
One 14.5 oz (411g) can of chili beans
Chipotle hot sauce to taste
Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
Optional – 2 or three acorn squash of equal size
In a deep sauté pan with a lid, cook the bacon until it’s crispy and all the fat has been released. Remove the bacon and add the minced onion and garlic to the bacon fat and continue to cook until the onion is soft. Add the ground elk meat and stir it about until browned then add everything else, starting with small amounts of hot sauce until you have the desired kick you want. Unless you fed it to your dog, you could crumble the cooked bacon and add that too.
Stir everything together thoroughly, bring it to a boil then reduce to a simmer and put the lid on. Let it cook for 1-2 hours, stirring occasionally adding a little water if it looks like it’s drying out.
Meanwhile roast the acorn squash. Preheat the oven to 350F and cut each squash in half around the middle. Trim both ends a little so that they sit upright and scrape out the seeds. Brush the flesh with a little olive oil and season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Place cut side down on a baking tray and bake for about 40 minutes or until the flesh is soft.
To serve, divide the chili among the acorn squash ‘bowls’ and top with your favorite chili ‘fixins’.