Thursday, November 13, 2014

Ace in the Hole Chile and Corn Bread Dinner

It is time, once again, for Cook the Books.  This is a very cool club in which you are assigned a book to read and then you create a meal that is inspired by the book.  You share this recipe with all the other members of the group.  It is great fun seeing how others are inspired by the same book you just finished reading.

This month's selection was That Old Ace in the Hole by Annie Proulx and our host this month is Simona of Briciole.  I would like to say I loved this had all the elements of a book I would love.  It was historical fiction, it dealt with  a matter dear to my heart...opposing factory farms and it took place in a small town filled with tons of quirky and interesting characters.  So what is not to like??  I don't know...The book did not grab hold of me.  Parts of it did but not enough to make the book call for me to pick it up when I had some down time.

The book's lead character , Bob Dollar, is a young man who was dropped onto his gay uncle's doorstep by his parents who promised they would be back but never came through on that promise. This, of course, damaged him as he waited day after day for his parents to return for him.  He is now a young adult looking for a job and finds one with a company that is hoping to buy up land to turn into factory hog farms in the Oklahoma/Texas Panhandle.  Bob Dollar is young and naive and has no idea what life is all about but as he meets the colorful characters who live in the little town of Woolybucket he starts to understand a little bit more.

One thing I can say about this book is that there was no shortage of food ideas.  The entire story was filled with food references.  Any food that you can imagine was served in this book.  In fact, a huge part of the story took place in the "Old Dog", a buffet style restaurant with different local specialties served every night.  The Old Dog often serve Chile, as it is spelled in the book.  They often also ate game meat, including venison, and being down south corn bread was a staple.  All of these things helped me to choose the recipes I am sharing with you today.

For this month's recipe I chose Venison Chile with a side of Corn Bread.  I hope you enjoy it.

Venison is much leaner than beef so when browning I use a T. of olive oil.

I heat the olive oil, add the venison, jalapeno, onion and garlic. 
Cook it all together.  You will not need to drain it.
The olive oil will be absorbed into the rest of the ingredients.

Add your tomatoes, tomato sauce, beans and seasonings.
Turn to low and simmer for an hour to allow flavors to meld.

While the chile simmers, mix the batter for the cornbread and bake.

The cornbread is the perfect accompaniment for the chile.

I like to garnish my chile with cheese and sour cream.

Ace in the Hole Venison Chile

1 lb. ground venison
1 T. extra virgin Olive Oil
salt and pepper to taste
1 large sweet onion, diced
1 jalapeno pepper, minced
1 qt. tomatoes with their juice
1 large can tomato sauce
3 (15 oz) cans beans of your choice, drained and rinsed ( I used 1 can of 3 bean mix, 1 can kidney beans and 1 can black beans)
3 t. chili powder
few shakes of  hot pepper sauce, to taste
Mexican blend cheese, shredded
Sour Cream

Heat oil in a dutch oven over med high heat.  Add venison, season with salt and pepper to taste and add onion, jalapeno and garlic.  Cook and stir until venison is browned and vegetables are tender and fragrant.  Add remaining ingredients. Stir together and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to a simmer and allow to cook until chile thickens and flavors meld together.  Ladle into bowls and garnish with shredded cheese and sour cream, if desired.  Print Recipe

Corn Bread
adapted from Bob' s Red Mill

1 T. butter
1 c. corn meal
1 c. flour
4 T. butter, melted
1 T. sugar
1 T. baking powder
pinch salt
1 egg
1 c. milk

Melt 1 T. butter over med high heat in a cast iron skillet.  Whisk together remaining ingredients until just blended.  Pour into the cast iron skillet and then place skillet into an oven, preheated to 425* for 20 minutes, or until cooked through and starting to brown a bit on top.  Print Recipe

 photo 1663a56b-3496-473c-af0e-76ac9e52a2cb_zps66fe091e.jpg

I am sharing this post at Small Victories Sunday. 
 Stop by and see us!!


  1. Isn't it funny how sometimes a book just isn't one that we are into at all...

    1. I seemed like it took me forever to finish this book but I just read the first chapter of a new one and I think I am going to love it.

  2. I had the same reaction to the book - I felt like I should love it, but I just didn't!! Your recipe, however, looks fantastic!

    1. Thanks seemed like I was reading about Bob Dollar forever.

  3. That recipe and combination of cornbread and venison chile looks absolutely delicious - hopefully you enjoyed your dinner more than the book. :D

  4. I did Rebekah. As a matter of fact, I just had the same meal again for lunch today.

  5. This looks fabulous. I would definitely love a bowl right about now!! I tried twice to read the book and I just couldn't get into it. I may try again this weekend, but the month is ending soon. Boo.

  6. I just started working up my post today. I have so much to say about this book. Loved it! I think I will go with a bison burger (from the Barbwire Festival). Great post Wendy. Can't wait to see everyone's.

  7. Ohhh, I love the idea of pairing books with recipes, two of my favorite things! I will have to check out Cook the Books! Thanks for sharing with Small Victories Sunday Linkup, this looks really delicious. I made a Tamale Pie Casserole last week that had similar flavors and my boys gobbled it up. Hope you join us for the linkup starting tomorrow!

    1. I will absolutely check it out. Thanks so much for stopping by.

  8. I liked the descriptions of The Old Dog Cafe too. What characters! Your post is very mouthwatering.

  9. I admire your patience with the book. It has happened to me too to feel that I should like a book but don't. Glad that it was inspiring in the kitchen, though: great choice of recipe. Thank you for participating to this edition of Cook the Books.

    1. Thank you Simona. This is a great club and I always enjoy it.

  10. Dear Wendy, I have just published the roundup of all the lovely contributions to this edition of Cook the Books. You will find it here:

    P.S. I sent an email about this but could not find your address, hence the comment.

    1. Thanks Simona, my email for future reference is

  11. G'day Doesn't this look delish and what a great recipe! Love venison!
    Perfect for this month's book challenge too!
    Cheers! Joanne

    1. Thanks Joanne. We love venison as well and a friend of ours just stocked our freezer so we will be enjoying it much more often now.

  12. Ah, my fellow 'chile' maker--what a gorgeous bowl. I loved that you used the venison ad the corn bread is perfect. I did have trouble at first with the book but it finally 'clicked' for me and I really enjoyed it by the end--but definitely not the easiest read we have had.


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