by Kat Robinson
What better way to escape the oncoming chill of winter than with a steaming hot bowl of chili? If you enjoy making chili or feel the thrill of competition, consider joining in the 7th Annual Chili Cook-Off Fundraiser at Hot Springs' Exchange Street Parking Plaza this Tuesday. There is no entry fee for competitors, but each team must create 10 gallons of chili. Teams must provide their own ingredients, cooking aparatus, and such. There will be electricity for competitors who need it. Cooking begins at 1 p.m.
Rather taste than cook? Your chance comes at 4 p.m., when for $3 you can line up and try as much chili as you can consume. Proceeds will go to the Downtown Association's Deck the Park Challenge. For more information, call (501) 624-3370 or email Suzanne Tucker.
Stick around for the annual Christmas lighting ceremony at 6:30 p.m.
Unable to make it to Hot Springs? Pull some of that venison out of your freezer and give Phyllis Speers' Mexican Venison Chili a try. Recipe on the jump.
Mexican Venison Chili
3 oz. dried Ancho Chiles, stems & seeds removed
8 slices bacon, diced
4 cups chopped onion
1 tsp. coriander
2 10 oz. cans Rotel
Salt & Pepper
6 cloves garlic, sliced
2 TBSP. chili powder
2 tsp. cumin seeds
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. salt
5 lb. venison roast cut into 2” to 3” cubes
1 12 oz. bottle Mexican beer
1 small can diced green chiles
½ bunch cilantro, coarsely chopped
1 medium butternut squash, peeled & cut into 2 “ cubes
Chopped red onion
Shredded Mexican cheese
Preheat oven to 350°
Place ancho chiles in bowl, cover with boiling water. Soak at least one hour.
Cook bacon until starting to brown. Add onions cook until soft. Salt and pepper venison cubes generously. Add meat and garlic to pot. Stir to coat and set aside.
Drain anchos, reserving liquid, tear into pieces. Place anchos, 1 cup soaking liquid, chili powder, cumin seeds, oregano, coriander and salt. Blend well. Add more soaking liquid to make a thick paste.
Pour over meat and mix well. Add Rotel, beer, green chiles, and cilantro. Stir well, cover and put in oven. Bake 2 hours. Uncover kettle and bake 1 hour. Add squash, mix in well. Bake about 45 minutes until squash is tender. Add soaking liquid if chili is too dry.
Serve with garnishes on the side and warmed flour tortillas.