Recipes: Deer Chili – Slow Cooker or Not


Chili Tonite & Hot Tamale!

Chili Tonite & Hot Tamale!


It must be obvious to you by now that I gravitate towards chili recipes with colorful names.

Today is no exception; Buzzard’s Breath Chili is a fun name for a great bowl of red!

This recipe is unique for another reason. If you worry about the spices you add to chili, this one explains some spice uses – and this info carries over to other cooking. Enjoy!

Buzzard’s Breath Chili

8 lbs. venison or 6 lbs. venison and 2 lbs. chili grind pork

3 small cans tomato sauce (8 ounces each)

2 large onions, chopped

5 cloves garlic, crushed and chopped

2 jalapeno peppers

Chili powder – about twice the label amount (I use between 1 & 2 Tbsp.)

Cumin – 2 tsp.

Oregano – 1/2 tsp.

Salt – to taste

Paprika – 1 to 2 tsp.

Cayenne Pepper – to taste

Masa harina- as needed

Beef stock – 1 quart

Chop venison into 3/8″ cubes, removing all gristle/visible fat. Add chili grind pork. Brown in an iron skillet – about 2 lbs. at a time, until gray in color.

Place all seared meat into a large cast iron chili pot, adding tomato sauce and equal amounts of water.  Add chopped onion, garlic, jalapeno peppers (wrapped in cheese cloth), and chili powder.

Simmer 20 minutes, then add ground cumin, oregano, salt and cayenne pepper to taste. As moisture is required, add homemade beef stock until the quart is used, then add water.

Simmer covered until meat is tender (approximately two hours), stirring occasionally, then add masa harina, to achieve desired thickness.

If needed, add paprika for color.  Cook 10 more minutes, correct seasoning to taste, discard jalapenos and serve. Small amount of cumin enhances aroma when added in the last 10 minutes. Makes 12 servings.


  • Make chili as hot as preferred by varying cayenne pepper.
  • Too much oregano will deaden chili, use sparingly.
  • A thick, rich sauce is the secret of good chili; a good homemade beef stock guarantees the sauce.
  • Any personal additions to chili, such as beans, cheese, green onions, corn chips or crackers should be served separately, allowing each person his choice.
  • Any good chili powder should make this chili, but the best are those brands using California or New Mexico chilies.

Addendum: To make the original Buzzard’s Breath Chili, the creator advocates the addition of dried red ants to enhance the flavor, plus cigar ashes to achieve the proper thickness (yep, you read correctly – ants and cigar ashes. I just copy; I don’t create).

He also said that his chili should be prepared over an open cow-chip fire; however, local ordinances and EPA regulations often prohibit this.

What the creator didn’t mention: Add ~ 1/3 masa harina to ~ 1/2 cup hot water. Stir until it starts to expand, add to chili. Stir into chili. If you need more thickening, do it again.

Slow Cooker Directions: Sear meat and add to large cooker, adding tomato sauce and equal amounts of water.  Add chopped onion, garlic, jalapeno peppers (wrapped in cheese cloth).

Cook ~ 6 to 8 hours. One-half hour before finished, add all remaining spices to pot. Add masa harina, as specified above. Let simmer for half hour and remove jalapeno peppers (in cheese cloth) and serve.

(Copied from the Houston Chronicle, at least 15 years ago.)


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