I’m from Texas, so chili is one of my favorite stews to make. I pride myself on being a chili expert. Why not make it with some grass fed bison?
The granddaddy of this Tex-Mex dish, chili con carne, is thought to have originated in the 1800s along the Texas cattle trails. Range cooks would commonly prepare a pot of fresh beef and wild-grown seasonings for the cowhands. Before long, the popularity of this spicy stew spread like cheese on a hot burrito throughout the trail towns. It’s even said that Frank and Jesse James would stop to eat a bowl before pulling their next bank job.
Texans obviously take their chili seriously, and opinions vary widely on what makes a perfect bowl of “red”–a common nickname for the meaty dish. Some add a variety of meats including pork, while others insist on beef. Many use commercial seasonings and powders for convenience, but purists grind their own chile peppers. Ground buffalo, also known as bison, is a great alternative to ground beef because it has a rich, delectable flavor.
True Texas classic chili doesn’t include beans so you can skip the beans (and the gas) if they don’t work for you.
- 2 pounds ground bison
- 2 cups kidney beans (precooked or canned)
- 1 large onion, diced
- 2 large diced tomatoes
- 1 8-ounce can organic tomato sauce
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 large red bell peppers, finely chopped
- 2 Tablespoons chili powder
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground oregano
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 4 cups beef broth
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO)
- Garnish with sliced avocado, cilantro, diced onion, sliced lime
Heat oil in a large stock pot over medium-high heat. Add ground bison, onion and garlic. Cook, stirring and breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon, until the meat is no longer pink, 3 to 5 minutes.
Add bell peppers, reduce the heat to medium and cook, stirring frequently, until the vegetables are starting to soften, 5 to 7 minutes.
Pour in the tomato sauce, chili powder, cumin, oregano, salt and cayenne. Stir 30 seconds to 1 minute.
Stir in beans and tomatoes.
Add broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, partially cover the pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid is reduced and thickened, about 50 minutes. If the mixture becomes overly dry, add 1/2 cup water at a time as needed.
After all the ingredients are added to the pot, I like to slowly simmer my chili for close to an hour to develop the best flavor, but if you’re in a hurry, reduce the liquid by half and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes. Take care to cook the chili at the barest possible simmer to avoid evaporating the sauce before the bison is tender.
Serve with shredded avocado, chopped onions, cilantro and lime wedges.