Our only close encounter with wild bears was perpetrated (mainly) by the ever-adventurous and thrill-seeking Mrs. Chili365 and her trusty infant companion, Pirate. While stomping about in nature, they happened upon a mother black bear frolicking carelessly with her cubs. They had to be rescued by boat and by station wagon. (I rescued the people, not the bears. That fact notwithstanding, the bears were actually quite fortunate to be unaware of the danger that my wife and infant daughter actually posed to them.)
Tonight’s chili recipe features bear meat. As twisted minds go, mine is as distorted as most, though far less docile than many. In yanking the bear meat from our freezer, my brain fixated two (maybe three) bears. Paddington and Smoky instantly came to mind. Armed with the spectral apparitions of two cartoon bears from my childhood, I decided to add smoke flavor and marmalade to the chili. I threw everything into our hobbled crock pot. This sad beast of a small kitchen appliance has soldiered through over 50 chili recipes this year. Give it some props.
On the subject of props, the Pirate has graced us with a series of drawings I like to call “The Chili Ladies”. (No explanation necessary. Not after 364 days).
¾ lb bear meat, cut into small pieces
1 can (14.5 oz) chili style diced tomatoes
1 C vegetable juice
1 T chili powder
1 t powdered onion
1 t cumin
1 t liquid smoke
1 t sriracha sauce
2-3 T orange marmalade
- Add ingredients to a crock pot and cook on low for 12 hours.
I really love The Pirate’s drawings. Without fail, the subject is well proportioned and cycloptic. I get the sense that these figures are friendly and approachable but at the same time powerful, even vaguely menacing (not unlike the Pirate herself). I aimed for this friendly/brawny dichotomy in making the Smoking Bear Chili. I fell short on the powerful and the menacing. Approachable? Yes. The slightly-too-thin broth was tasty with sweet and smoky notes singing in tune with a mild spiciness. The bear meat was slightly gamey and there just wasn’t enough pop to exude any muscular imperilment. In sum, the chili was good enough to get it done but not spectacular, making it very much like someone else I know.