The ultimate freezer raid game chilli

One for the pot - chilli

One for the pot - chilli - Credit: Archant

Tim Maddam’s incredible game chilli is a great way to use up freezer odds and sods that have been taking up space since last season... Tim serves it with a melty, cheesy twist

One for the pot - chilli

One for the pot - chilli - Credit: Archant

There is great pleasure to be taken from filling your own fridge and freezer with food you have provided. Whether that be shot game, foraged fruit or fungi, veg from the garden or herbs from the wayside, it’s pure satisfaction.

Like all Sporting Shooter readers, I jealously guard my portion of any bag, though I am generous to a fault should anyone want any. It’s always good to share during times of plenty – who knows what may come back around to you one day – and it’s not at all unusual to find me with a freezer full of home-prepared game.

I like to store my shot game in the freezer for obvious reasons, but I also like to get it used up sharpish – after all, soon I’ll need the space for mackerel, trout and rabbits!

It’s best to use things up in some sort of order. I vacuum-pack all my game once butchered and freeze in the bags as this prevents freezer burn. A small vacuum-packing machine is easily available online, the only bugbear being that the bags are not always recyclable.

But what to do with this hoard as the seasons turn? Well, all the old favourites come out to play: my spicy wrap will certainly get a few airings and I’m making some wild duck jerky this year for the first time. Then there are all the odds and ends that crop up: a little diced venison, a small bag of pheasant thighs, a few duck breasts, even a lump of wild boar that I have been given.

I have to tell you right now that all these odds and ends make the finest chilli you are ever likely to eat. It takes a long time to cook, but not all that long to put together. You will need some pork fat, and if you can lay your hands on some pig skin or bacon skin, so much the better.

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Brace yourself for this one though – it’s a joy to eat and can be eaten in so many ways. You can serve it simply with rice or baked spuds, but the killer shot here, the coup de grace if you like, is the use of good bread, cold chilli, cheese and a frying pan to introduce you to the unrivalled pleasure that is grilled chilli cheese. I should warn you, though, that this is not one for the diet plan.

Now I know some of you will be thinking that it seems a shame to just chuck it all in a chilli, and I hear you, but do not underestimate the depth of flavour that the game will impart and the warmth it can deliver. This is not simply a ‘use it up at any cost’ type of thing, this is an excellent dish in its own right. Once you try it, there is no going back!

One for the pot - chilli

One for the pot - chilli - Credit: Archant



* 1kg mixed game: pigeon, duck, pheasant, venison, rabbit, hare or whatever you have

* 2 tins of tomatoes

* 1 carton of passata

* 2 tbsp treacle

* 1 tsp coriander seeds

* 1 whole cinnamon stick

* 1 tsp fennel seeds

One for the pot - chilli

One for the pot - chilli - Credit: Archant

* 1 tsp cumin seeds

* 1 tbsp smoked paprika

* As much dark chilli powder / chipotle paste / chilli flakes as you think you can handle. Remember you can always add more but it’s hard to tone it down once it’s hot!

* 150g roughly chopped pork fat – or, better still, some rump fat from that fat fallow

* 100g piece of smoked bacon skin

* 400g cooked red kidney beans

* 1 tbsp pure cocoa powder

* 2 large onions diced finely

* 5 fresh bay leaves

One for the pot - chilli

One for the pot - chilli - Credit: Archant

* A sprig of chopped thyme and rosemary

* 1ltr good stock: ideally game but chicken, beef or pork will do

* 2 bulbs of garlic, peeled and chopped (yes, 2 bulbs not 2 cloves!)

* 1 tbsp sherry vinegar

One for the pot - chilli

One for the pot - chilli - Credit: Archant


1. You may want to mince your game, but I like to dice it and cook it so long it starts to fall apart anyway. Often, I will mince some game and dice some of the rest – rabbit haunches I often add whole and remove the bones later, after the chilli has cooked.

2. You need a big pan. Ideally, a large casserole pan with a good lid. Begin by frying the onions in a little oil and then add the meat. Cook for a few minutes.

3. Roughly grind the spices (leave the cinnamon stick whole) and add them to the pan along with the garlic, treacle, vinegar, paprika and chilli. Cook, stirring to stop it catching, for around five minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

4. Add the tomato, herbs and passata and allow to cook for around 10 minutes. Now add the beans, cocoa, pork fat (chopped small) and bacon skin (left whole).

5. Cover the contents of the pan with as much stock as required and simmer for however long it takes to come together. I would suggest a minimum of four hours.

6. Taste regularly and top up with stock if needs be. Add more chilli if you like – I use a lot more! Ideally, allow it to cool and reheat before use; it’s just better that way. Once cooked, I remove the bacon skin and any bones.

GRILLED CHILLI CHEESE - This recipe is a simple way of using your delicious game chilli. Get your mates round for lunch at the weekend to show them how good game can be to eat, or you could even serve this at syndicate shoots for a midday snack.


* 2 slices of bread & 1 good slice of extra mature cheddar


1. I use good crusty bread which I lightly sprinkle with light olive oil or rapeseed oil, salt and pepper.

2. Arrange the bottom halves of the sandwiches into a large non-stick frying pan and put it over a moderate heat.

3. Place a heaped tablespoon of chilli mixture on each slice and top with the sliced cheese. Pop the other slice of oiled bread on top.

4. Once the bottoms have gone a little crispy, turn them over very carefully and pop the whole show in a very hot oven. If your frying pan doesn’t go in the oven, you’ll have to transfer them to a tray after they’ve had a minute in the pan on the second side. Bake for four minutes or until the cheese is soft.

3. Remove from the oven and leave on a chopping board for around two minutes. Cut in half and serve, with a large glass of red wine or a cold pint of the black stuff. Heaven.