Venison Gets the Texas Treatment
A bold West Texas chili recipe just in time for deer season.
Although Chef Lou Lambert paid his dues at white-tablecloth restaurants on both coasts, this Texas native, descended from seven generations of cattle ranchers, knows his way around a smoker and a fire pit, too. Since returning to his home state more than a decade ago, he’s been blending the best of both of those worlds at his restaurants in Austin and Fort Worth, including Lambert’s Downtown Barbecue and Lambert’s Steaks, Seafood and Whiskey. And now, he’s spilling some of his culinary secrets in his first cookbook, Big Ranch, Big City.
The book is a compendium of Texas flavors, with some 125 recipes covering everything from a roasted poblano and cheddar soup to smoke-braised brisket. A hunter since he was a kid growing up in Odessa, Lambert doesn’t give game short shrift either. You’ll find recipes for beer-battered quail and wild duck rillettes, along with his standout version of a bold West Texas venison chili, just in time for deer season. Lambert’s recipe is Texas through and through (no beans, thank you), and he advises that you step up to a high-quality chili powder rather than settling for the generic stuff. But that doesn’t mean he’s opposed to a little experimentation. “I tell my friends who aren’t from Texas, use this as a base,” he says. “And if you want to veer off and add in some beans or a little more tomato or corn or whatever crazy thing you think of as chili, you can.”
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