There are a few things in a hunter’s life that define where he hails from—or where he started his hunting journey. All across America, hunters have various methods of harvesting and preparing venison. For instance, in the North, most folks will say you’ve got to hang a deer for seven days before touching it.
In the South, a lot of people will tell you to soak the deer in an icy, saltwater brine. A lot of these regional differences relate to the weather, or were simply the trusted ways to preserve food back in the day. Just like every other tradition, they have been passed down from one generation to the next.
Another custom that has been passed down—one that differs from region to region—is how to fix your venison. One of the easiest—yet most highly debated—ways to prepare deer meat would have to be venison chili. When you think about it, we all know at least one person who claims to have the best chili recipe in the world. I can name five people right off the top of my head.
In my estimation, the only way to do a venison chili recipe justice is to try and represent each region of the country with a signature chili. Just realize these are my recipes and they all come with my own personal touch. So if you think a dish is missing something Uncle Sidney put in his chili, by all means add it…or just try it my way. I promise you every time I’ve prepared these chilies together, the panel of judges has a very hard time deciding which one is the best.
So let me take you on my tour of the country—one venison chili recipe at a time!
Chef Derek St.Romain is the Chef at the Duke Diet and Fitness Center and is the regional coordinator for Backyard Bow Pro, a non-profit organization helping fight hunger. When he is not creating incredible, healthy food in his kitchen during the day, Chef Derek is working hand in hand with local farmers, hunters and food banks to feed people with hunter harvested venison. Chef Derek is originally from New Orleans, La., and because of Hurricane Katrina he now resides in Burlington, N.C. Chef Derek considers himself a Cajun, husband, father and true conservationist who loves anything and everything hunting and food related.