Blue Nun Southwest Wild Game Chili
The History Behind “The Blue Nun”
Chili – it is an American classic. In fact, it is so American Texas chose it as their State dish, and nothing speaks America more than Texas. Chili is so iconic it comes with several origin stories.
One of those chili origins is a myth involving a nun in Spain, Indigenous Americans, and the ability to transport herself into more than one location at a time when in a trance-like state. This supernatural chili nun is known as la dama de azul, or the lady in blue, a nun in Spain who appeared to the indigenous people of Texas and New Mexico in the 1600’s without ever leaving Spain. As the story goes, she had the ability to go in a hypnotic state and teleport herself elsewhere without her physical body ever leaving Spain. When she was tending to the poor and hungry in North America during one of her hypnotic trances, she taught them about a fiery stew made from venison and pronghorn, tomatoes, onions, and chili peppers.
Chili Was My Nemesis
Chili has been my nemesis. I love a good zingy, bold, rich chili dish and hate the bland uninteresting ones. My problem is I have never had a good recipe of my own. I would try making it a couple times a year only to throw out the recipe and try again next Fall. Maybe I needed my own la dama de azul delivering good tidings and chili recipes. Well, it happened – not a mysterious messenger of God and the culinary arts – more like a series of my own recent cooking escapades leading me to a hearty delicious and full-of-flavor chili I can call my own. The three things that most influenced this recipe and set it apart are:
- I like to smoke meat on my Camp Chef pellet grill
- I’d recently become addicted to salsa verde
- I’ve been making my own bone broth
I thought to myself, “Why not combine these into a chili recipe?”. So I did it, and damn, it turned out good.
- Couple packages of game meat (pronghorn steaks and chops are what I used).
- Coconut oil
- 1 Red bell pepper
- 1 Green bell pepper
- 1 Onion
- 1 Clove of garlic
- 1 Can of Rotel fire roasted diced tomatoes with chiles
- 1 Quart bottle garden tomatoes (slightly drained)
- 1 Small can of fire roasted diced green chiles
- 1 7oz can Herdez Salsa Verde
- 1 Cup Homemade bone broth. Can substitute with store bought bone broth. See below on what I did to make my own bone broth.
- 1 Cans of great northern white beans
- 1 Can of kidney beans
- 2 Can of chili beans
- 1 Small can tomato paste
- 1 Tablespoon(ish) dark brown sugar
- 1 Teaspoon(ish) worcestershire sauce
- ½ Package of ranch dressing mix
- 1 Teaspoon to 1 tablespoon of each spice: cumin, smoked paprika, chili powder, parsley, oregano, seasoned salt, pepper, Meat Mitch BBQ dry rub.
- Smidge of hot sauce to taste.
*These ingredients are all approximates. Use more or less to your liking as I did.
Begin by cutting pronghorn into bite size pieces. I put a frying pan on high heat with some coconut oil in it and dropped the meat in for 30 seconds while stirring to quickly sear the outsides. I then started my Camp Chef pellet grill on high smoke. I placed the meat on a cookie sheet nice and spread out and put the meat on the grill for an hour to cook a little more and absorb some smoke flavor. I did this the day before but you could do it the day of. Once done I set it aside for later.
- Grab your Dutch oven. Something about a cast-iron Dutch oven just makes this taste better.
- Next I chopped my onion, bell peppers, opened my cans of beans, and mostly drained them. I left more of the liquid in the chili bean and pretty much drained the rest.
- Sauté the peppers, onion, and garlic in the frying pan with coconut oil until they turn translucent.
- Put Rotel tomatoes and bottled tomatoes into the food processor and give them a quick blend.
- Gather the meat and all the other ingredients and set it next to the Dutch oven.
- Start combining everything in the Dutch oven. I started with veggies, tomato slurry, and ended with the meat. I like ending with the meat so I’m able to put as much or as little meat as preferred given how much of everything else is in the chili. I want the meat to be a complementary component of the chili, not a dominating ingredient.
- I took a lot of leeway in how much of the spices and broth I added. I put approximates for this recipe but feel free, like me, to use more or less to get the taste and consistency you desire.
- Lastly, I took the Dutch oven and put it on my Camp Chef outdoor propane stove and let it simmer for about 30-45 minutes, stirring often. You could also do this on a stovetop.
- Once done, serve with some sour cream and cheese on top.
Secret Ingredient: Homemade Bone Broth
I’m not pretending to be a bone broth chef. In fact, this was only the second time I had ever attempted bone broth. A lot of good recipes exist on the internet and all I did was adapt several of them to my own needs. Here is what I used and how I did it:
- I saved some bones from smoked ribs and a couple of smoked pork butts we had a week earlier. You can buy beef bones at the grocery store or from a butcher as well, or better yet save some from your big game harvest.
- When I was ready to make the broth, I put the bones in a crockpot along with chopped carrots, onions, celery, fresh garden basil, spinach, apple cider vinegar, water, and a beef bouillon cube, covering the bones and veggies with liquid.
- I turned the crockpot on low for about 2 days.
- After a couple of days, I strained the liquid into jars.
- I let the jars cool and scraped the gelled fat from the top of the broth.
- Put in the fridge for later.
Feel free to play around with the quantities of the ingredients to your own personal preference or add a few other additional ingredients to make it your own. Here are a few I might try next time:
- Chopped fresh jalapeños
- Chopped fresh cilantro
- Lime juice
- Sweet corn
From Field to Plate
I hope this article inspires you to keep on cooking, whether you consider yourself a competent chef or a complete shmuck like me. During the fall and winter make chili part of your meal rotation and get some of your harvested big-game meat into the bellies of family and friends. This is also a perfect way to utilize some of those cuts of meat that you may not know what to do with.