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Elk Chili-Freezer Meal Friday

Updated: Jan 7, 2019

One of my favorite Christmas season meals is chili, for a couple reasons. As far as a freezer meal, this is a great dish to make a heaping pot of and place in freezer bags for another 'chilly' December meal. One of my cherished memories of college was going to my room-mates home in Durango for Christmas. Colorado was a bit too far to travel back and forth to Texas, for every holiday, and my roommates family welcomed me with loving and open arms into theirs as if I was one of their own. On Christmas Eve, her mom would make a huge pot of Frito chili pie, then we would all garnish it with our favorite toppings, and sit around laughing, watching movies, playing games, and truly enjoying each other and the spirit of the special night. Today, I love to make chili because I share this tradition with them on this wondrous night, and tell the stories of my college Christmas Eve's with my children. This specific recipe is endearing to me because it is part of our cookbook, was created and shared by my dear friend, Chef Barrie Boulds. I have made hundreds of pots of chili, and this is the one (and the recipe from my roommates mom) has my family coming back for seconds and thirds. It is easy to freeze in double-bagged gallon Ziploc freezer bags. I also lay the bags flat in our freezer so I can evenly stack a couple together, and I also, in my 'rustic gourmet' cooking opinion, feel it thaws evenly when I freeze it like that, and I've not had any problems with it for reuse. I do encourage to always cool your chili before placing in in the freezer...give it a couple hours.

For the toppings I like to have white rice (I use minute rice or the easy microwavable bags), grated cheese, tomatoes, sour cream, green onions, guacamole, salsa, black olives, and last but not least Frito's, either original or chili cheese favor, available to create a mountain of chili greatness. Enjoy! And if you would like more great recipes by Chef Barrie Boulds, our cookbook is available through our web-sites, Arcadia Publishing, and all national and independent bookstores.

As featured in The Big Sky Bounty Cookbook by Chef Barrie Boulds & Jean Petersen Serves 8-12

"Ground elk is great for chili, You don't have to drain the fat because the fat content is so low!"-Chef Boulds

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 pounds ground elk

1 large onion, diced

2 celery stalks, diced

2 teaspoons cayenne pepper

1 tablespoon ground cumin

1 tablespoon chili powder

1 can (15.5 ounces) red kidney beans, rinsed & drained

1 can (15.5 ounces) chili beans

1 can (15.5 ounces) red beans, rinsed & rained

1 can (28 ounces) whole tomatoes, with juice, crushed by hand

1 small jar (about 8 ounces) of you favorite salsa 

1/4 to 1/2 cup grape jelly

3 to 5 cups of water (or to whatever consistency of chili you want)

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

heat the oil in a large pot or Dutch over over medium-high and add elk, onion and celery. Saute until meat has browned and the vegetables are soft, about 10 minutes. Add the cayenne, ground cumin and chili powder and stir  for 1 minute. Add the rest of the ingredients, bring to a boil and immediately turn down to low, partially covered, and simmer for 30-40 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. 

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