This venison chili recipe is a spin on the traditional meat-and-potato aluminum foil packet that every outdoorsperson has cooked in the coals at some point. It’s the perfect dish to share around a campfire at deer camp. The beauty of this recipe is the simplicity. You simply stack hot coals on top of the foil packets and let the embers do the cooking for you.
Time to make
1 lb. ground venison
1 ½ cup diced sweet potato (1 medium potato)
2 cans fire-roasted, diced tomatoes
1 full can beer
2 tsp. salt
½ tsp. black pepper
3 tsp. chili powder
½ tsp. oregano
¼ tsp. cayenne
¼ tsp. cumin
¼ tsp. garlic powder
½ large yellow onion, diced
Cheese and sour cream for serving
1 tbsp. canola or grapeseed oil
Also works with
- For convenience, I find it best to prep in advance by dicing the sweet potato and onion. Also pre-mix the salt, pepper, chili powder, oregano, cayenne, cumin, and garlic powder.
- Start a small fire and burn the wood down to coals.
- While waiting for the coals to get hot, prep the hobo packet. Use a small, bowl-shaped container to create a mold that you will pour the chili into, big enough to hold about 2 or 3 cups of food. I make mine with a small Tupperware. Wrap two large pieces of foil around the bottom of the container and press to shape it. If you don’t have a bowl, use your fist and mold foil to create a makeshift bowl. Make four of these bowls out of the foil.
- Add the sweet potato and onion to a gallon-size zip-lock bag. Pour in about 1 tbsp. of oil and mix to coat. Sprinkle in the spice mix, both cans of fire-roasted tomatoes, and the can of beer. Seal the top and mix well. Pour these liquids into each of the foil bowls.
- Portion out a ¼ pound of the ground venison into each of the bowls, letting it rest on top of the chili. You can gently stir, but don’t over mix it. It will appear soupy, but the potatoes will soak up a lot of the moisture as it cooks.
- Fold two sides of the foil together and crimp to seal shut. Repeat on the opposite two sides, letting the sides fold in while trying to maintain the shape of the bowl. Be cautious not to tear holes in the foil. Layer another piece of foil over the top to cover, but don’t mold it around the bowl, you want to be able to easily remove this piece.
- Set the hobo packets onto hot campfire coals. Don’t set them on or right next to an active flame. Use a small shovel to sprinkle hot coals on top of each foil bowl. This creates an oven effect, cooking the chili from top to bottom without needing to flip the packet.
- Cook until the potatoes are soft. Timing will depend on the size of potatoes. A small ½-inch dice will take about 20 minutes; larger chunks will take roughly 30 minutes.
- Remove the top layer of foil from each packet and shake off the coals. Open the foil packet and stir. Serve with sour cream and cheese if desired.