Feb 2012

Slow + Low Bison Chili

Whether your plans to tune in to Sunday’s Super Bowl are strictly game-related or more about Madonna’s halftime display of… I can’t wait to see what… no matter! What matters is that you are prepared with the appropriate accoutrements. This is no time to get schmancy – traditional fare is a must, though there’s no shame in allowing it to take new form with funkier ingredients and fun combinations.

This year, long before planning my guest list, I was set on Bison Chili. I’m not really a chili person, but I’m excited to find new ways to cook with Bison. In order to make my chili better suited to my palette, I first compiled a list of flavors which made the idea of chili a bit more attractive to me.


First off was the best grass-fed fresh bison chunks from a farm in Wisconsin – cause gosh knows there’s some great foods coming out of Wisconsin and this farm has produced bison since 1994 – long before its mainstream popularity.

Next I was to consider the various classifications of chili – one being the more Texan style, sans beans. Nope, not for me because it’s not as well rounded nutritionally. Smokey vs. hot – check! Enter chipotle.

Beer? Why yes please – something with some nice chocolate undertones to compliment the chipotle.

And the standard cumin? Not a giant fan, so whole seeds were the answer in keeping with tradition just enough to be recognized as chili.

And lastly, as I was tempted to pop open a can of beans and call it a day – I decided the fresh from the farm bison deserved dried beans. An overnight soak is no big deal.

If I have learned anything in this quest for the perfect game-day chili, it’s that chili lovers are an opinionated bunch! So tell me… what do you look for in a rockin’ chili and do you have a favorite recipe?


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1 T + 1 tsp canola oil
1 pound fresh bison meat, in 1 inch cubes
1 medium yellow onion, finely diced
1 T tomato paste
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 whole chipotle peppers in adobo
2  14 1/2 oz cans fire roasted diced tomatoes
1 pint bottle Young’s Double Chocolate Stout [or any oatmeal stout]
3/4 cup dry light red kidney beans
kosher salt + freshly ground pepper to taste

Optional garnishes: sharp cheddar, green onions, cilantro, sour cream and red onion.

4 servings. 375 calories.

The night before: soak the kidney beans in water for 8 hours; drain. The day of: pat dry, salt, and then sear the bison chunks on high heat in 1 T oil for 3 or 4 minutes, stirring once or twice. Remove from pan and set aside. Add onions to the same pan with 1 tsp oil, turn heat down to med/low and sweat, stirring occasionally until beginning to caramelize. Transfer onions and bison to slow cooker and add remaining ingredients. Cook on medium-high for 6-8 hours. Serve topped with your favorite garnishes.

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