Bison Chili

Bison Chili

Bison Chili | Rooted

I add cauliflower to this chili because why not?  The flavor goes nicely and it’s a great way to sneak in a nutrient rich food.

The lean winter months are upon us and it’s time to up the sustenance substantially.  When I think of “upping sustenance,” it’s hard to think of any animal other than a bison.  It just is.  I remember being a kid and going over to Catalina Island on occasion for outdoor camps.  Every boat ride over there it seemed someone talked of “buffalo burgers” and how we would get one.  I never ate a buffalo burger, but remained intimidated by them, let alone bemused at how a buffalo could have ended up on an island some thirty miles off the California coast.  Buffalo just seemed like an intimidating animal.

Food trends are changing in the US and people in certain parts of the country are becoming more conscious of the things they are eating, where their foods are coming from, the types of feed the animals they eat are being fed, etc.  Part of the change, and I suspect the reason foods like bison are appearing as a regular part of grocery store butcher departments, is the romanticism (oh buffalo, how romantic) associated with eating foods that seem to be closer to their natural environment, and more aligned with what our predecessors ate.  Bison just seems like something that should be roaming the range, chewing on grass, and occasionally mowed down in an Indian hunt (or by an eight year old playing 2-D Oregon Trail on an Apple 2E).  It is a good meat, has a distinct taste from beef, and is generally leaner than beef.  But don’t assume that prior to ending up in your chili pot your bison was certainly hanging out with Dances with Wolves.

The bison I got from my local Whole Foods is from a company called Nature’s Rancher.    It was raised without hormones or antibiotics, but is admittedly not “grass fed.”  If it were, this would surely be written largely on the packaging as no marketer in 2012 would pass on the opportunity to point this out.  Bison is now a commercially produced product, and as such, is subject to many of the same practices as other commercially produced meat.  This is simply something to be aware of.  But regardless, be keep in mind the same things you would when purchasing any other meat, be a conscientious consumer, and enjoy your bison.


  • 1 pound ground bison
  • 2 fifteen ounce cans of red beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 thirty-two ounce can of whole peeled tomatoes
  • 1 crown of cauliflower, chopped into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 hot pepper, such as jalepeno, habanero, or ghost pepper, minced
  • 1 T ground chili powder
  • 1 t paprika
  • 1/2 t cumin
  • 1/4 t cinnamon
  • 2 cups beef or chicken stock

Total time:  45 minutes

Serves:  4-5

To start, heat about two tablespoons of olive oil in a dutch oven.  Add the onions and garlic, season with salt and pepper, and cook about 3-4 minutes.  Add the cauliflower (and more oil if necessary) and cook additional four to five minutes, browning cauliflower.  Add the ground bison, season with salt and pepper, and stir until cooked.  Add the diced hot pepper if desired.

Stir in the the remaining ingredients and bring to a low simmer.  Cook until ready to serve.  Break apart peeled tomatoes, if desired.  Optional: top with fresh chives or onions, sour cream, and grated cheese.

Recipe ID: 1978

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