Matt Moore, Southern Eats & Drinks Expert

Matt MooreI’ll admit it—I have a problem, and it starts and ends with my freezer.

You see, there is simply NOT enough darn room for everything to fit into my freezer (and by everything, I mean spare pieces of wild game and my stockpile of Dixie Vodka).

You see, both can be useful in an emergency, or just a casual evening.

There’s an old saying that you should befriend those who respectfully harvest nature, because such a habit means that generosity is also often fostered. While these days I more frequently find myself on American Airlines flight than I do in a tree stand, I still take comfort knowing that my friends are usually more than willing to share in the bounty of the hunt.

Never is that truer than with venison, a species of game that remains plentiful and accessible. More often than not, a few pounds of ground venison, backstrap, and hind quarter meat are regular mainstays in my fridge—but we have to be REAL friends to share in the tender, meaty backstrap from the loin. For the rest of you, I’ll cheers you to a strong Dixie Southern Sangria and a bowl of my hearty venison chili.

Venison chili

In the old days, venison got a bad rap because most folks claimed it to be gamey in flavor. Harvested carefully, butchered, stored, and cooked properly, I would argue that it’s one of the most delicious meats you could ever encounter. And for those looking to ease their way in to eating venison, the fragrant spices and rich flavors of this chili (and cocktail for that matter) is a good starting point. Of course, if you don’t have venison on hand, feel free to substitute ground beef or turkey.

When I need to clear some space in my freezer, and especially now that the temps are finally reaching a reasonable chill, it’s the perfect time to whip up a big ole batch of this comfort meal, along with the festive Southern Sangria to warm up your nights and weekends.

Cheers, y’all.

Dixie Vodka Bottles


Southern Sangria

  • 1 cup Dixie Peach Vodka
  • 1 bottle dry white wine
  • Various fresh fruit/herbs (peaches slices, lemon wheels, lime wheels, orange wheels, blackberries, mint leaves)
  • Combine all ingredients in pitcher. Allow to sit for at least one hour before serving. Serve over ice with fruit from pitcher.

Venison Chili

  • 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large Vidalia or sweet onion, finely diced (about 2 cups)
  • 1 green bell pepper, finely diced (about 1½ cups)
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 jalapeño peppers, seeded and finely diced
  • 2 lb. ground venison
  • 3 tbsp. chili powder
  • 2 tbsp. plus 1½ tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup amber beer
  • 1 (28 oz.) can tomato sauce
  • 1 (28 oz.) can petite diced tomatoes
  • 1 (14 oz.) can dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (14 oz.) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • Toppings: shredded sharp cheddar cheese, sour cream, finely chopped green onions


  1. Heat a Dutch oven over medium heat 1 minute or until hot; add oil.
  2. Add onion and bell pepper; sauté 8 minutes.
  3. Add garlic and jalapeño; sauté 2 minutes or just until fragrant.
  4. Add venison and next 4 ingredients, and cook, stirring often, 6 minutes or until meat crumbles and is no longer pink.
  5. Add beer, and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon to loosen any browned bits from bottom of Dutch oven, 2 minutes.
  6. Stir in tomato sauce and next 3 ingredients; reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer, partially covered and stirring occasionally, 30 minutes.
  7. Remove from heat and serve with desired toppings.