Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Eating Down the Fridge, Day 2: Venison Chili

EDtF, Day 2.

After the ease of Monday evening, I was lulled into a false sense of complacency.

Recently gifted with two 1 ½ pound parcels of freshly butchered deer meat (this is Western North Carolina and therefore not an uncommon occurrence) I was confident that now was the time to use it.

I have ideas! I will triumph! Venison Chili for dinner!

And then I got home at 7:30 and realized I failed to defrost the meat.

Kidney beans, check.
Tomatoes, check.
Onions, double check (sweet onion AND leftover red onion from the lox adventure).

In an ideal world, you defrost meat for at least 24 hours in the refrigerator. Never on a counter at room temperature. I closed my eyes and tried to remember mom’s advice on defrosting meat when you:

a) don’t have any time and

b) don’t own a microwave.

Coming up short on ideas, I plunged the frozen block of meat into a bowl of warm water, praying for a reprieve from bacteria. Just this once, God. As visions of horrific food poisoning danced in my head, I dug out my cast iron Lodge 5 quart pot and started sautéing the onions in a bit of olive oil.

Check the meat, still frozen.
Oh, ew. The water is now red.
I drain off the water and plop the block o’ frozen deer parts in the Lodge along with the onions.
And start to scrape the meat off into the pot as it browns.

Please don’t try this at home.

Remove the meat and onions to a plate lined with paper towels and drain off the excess fat. Add meat back to the pot, along with some minced garlic and a Chili seasoning blend made just for me by someone who understands spice balance far better than I do. Two cans of diced tomatoes, a can of tomato sauce and a can of kidney beans. Stir and cover.

Verdict: Easy enough, but I've got to start remembering to defrost meat. The pork for Thursday is still in the freezer. Sigh.

As I've been thinking through the rest of the week, I've realized some things about my eating/cooking/preparing habits. Since I cook for one, occasionally two people, I rarely put together a full meal (salad, main course, vegetable side, dessert), preferring to make a single dish and let it speak for itself. I'm pretty firm on always including vegetables and using minimal meat. Hmm. To be revisited.

I don't always make such simple meals, but that seems to be the trend this week. Just you wait 'til I throw together my favorite late-spring meal: Poached Halibut with Saffron Mashed Potatoes and a Beet-Arugula salad. (Thank you, Emeril Lagasse.)

See Monday's entry for the updated list of food being used up from my fridge.


  1. I almost always thaw meat in warm water. I realize I'm probably playing with fire but I have never gotten sick, so... Do with that what you will I suppose.

  2. @tortuga - Hi there! I think it depends on several factors, such as where you purchased your meat, if it was already at room temperature, if it had been re-frozen...I try to always, always defrost in the refrigerator. It only takes one nasty bout of food poisoning to change your mind, and I'm somewhat paranoid about microbes and such. I use different cutting boards for meat and veggies, and spray things down with Lysol every so often.