Last weekend, a couple of friends and I decided that it would be a good idea to go for a long cycle on Sunday morning. It had been snowing and the forecast was for things to clear. So, with a degree of abandon, we met soon after sunrise and headed south. Temperatures were holding above zero and after about 30 minutes cycling the pain (along with the feeling) went out of my extremities.
We decided that a pit stop for coffee and scones was essential. So on getting to Greystones, we spent a useful 30 minutes both warming and fueling up. Back in the saddle and south again, staying cool through Kilcoole, Newcastle, and Rathnew. There was no evidence of the promised 5 degrees. With frost pinched faces, some sense prevailed and we turned north for Ashford and another coffee stop. On then to Ballyhenry and Rathmore, shadowing the motorway back towards Dublin. Grey clouds gathered ominously overhead. Cold sapped muscles and minds did not need the wind, hail and snow that then assailed us. Any idea of stopping was overshadowed by the thought of starting again. All we could do is grind out a slow, painful and cold journey home.
At the homestead I remembered my loving family and their expectation of a Venison Chili for dinner on a bitterly cold evening. The pressure was ramped up for me when I heard we had extra guests including the Wicklow Hunter. The same Wicklow Hunter who had delivered the two venison shoulders that formed the basis of the chili.
A quick shower (to restore my circulation) and a lunch had me feeling like I might be ready to take on the task. On reflection, the extreme cold and exercise had sapped me of a lot of my cognitive abilities and dexterity.
The first evidence of this is that there is no ingredients shot. I forgot to take it. I actually assembled the ingredients, set up the shot and got distracted by something trivial.
The ingredients list runs as follows:
- 2 shoulders of young venison
- 3 onions
- 3 peppers
- 1 can of beer
- 1 litre (2 pints) of venison stock*
- 1 can of chickpeas
- 1 can of kidney beans
- 1 teaspoon of hot chili powder
- 2 teaspoons of ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon of hot paprika
- 2 teaspoons of sweet paprika
- 2 teaspoons of dried oregano
- 2 chilis (seeded)
- 1 can of tomatoes
*The venison stock is as a result of my last venison outing. You can read about it here.
First I cleaned and trimmed the venison shoulders. Normally, this should take about half an hour. This time, it took an hour and a half and two sliced fingers.
The pressure was ramped up by the early arrival of my mother and, a few minutes later the Wicklow Hunter, himself a pretty excellent chef. The stress of the cold and energy loss was getting to me and I found myself numbed and unable to think through my recipe. I went on to chop and carmelise the onions.
I should have done this while I prepared the venison. Another half hour wasted.
Wife popped in to see how dinner was going. I explained that I only had to mince half the meat, fry it off, chop the peppers, cut and de-seed the chilis, assemble the chili in the pot and cook it for a couple of hours. She did the timing for me and I realised that we would not be eating for three hours. Now mentally drained and more pressured I returned to the task in hand.
The next hour passed in a mixture of chopping, occasional photographing, sweating (me not the vegetables) and excuse making.
As I added the venison chunks, youngest daughter stuck her head around the door and asked kindly “Will dinner be long?” I am too ashamed of my response to tell you about it here.
I added the minced venison next and then deglazed the pan with beer.
Next I added all the chilis. I deseeded them with deference to the youngest and oldest diners, neither hot on very hot stuff.
Tired, I then rubbed my eyes. Yes before washing my hands. Another ten minutes wasted trying to wash out the chili burn.
One and a half hours on the stove. I spent the time making excuses to the family before I added the chickpeas and kidney beans.
10 minutes resting (for me and the beans and peas) and I served the very hungry hoard.
They loved it. I was beyond caring. I went to bed and slept for ten hours. Heed my warning. Blizzard cycle or cook. Don’t try both on the same day.