Beefy Bison Chili

Winter.  Cold, rainy, all you want to do on the weekend is bundle up on the couch and watch sports or movies or nap. But, then you need to eat.  What to eat on a chilly, wet wintry day?  How about chili?  Hot, hearty, a little goes a long way in the filling department.  Ya know, I have made a lot of chili in my time, some beefy, some vegetarian, and I love them all, but I truly love my bison or beef and bison chili.  Ground bison is sweet, soft and adds a wonderful flavor to the savory chiles and aromatics we add to chilis. If you do not think you would like bison, give it a try in chili before anything else (I do love it in burgers, too, as well as carne asada-like in tacos); it does not have a gamey flavor like venison can have.  If you are game, let me share with you how I make my chili.  I go all-out for this.  Ready?  Let's work.

Chili spice blend:
2 tablespoons smoked paprika
2 tablespoons coriander seed
1 tablespoon cumin seed
1 tablespoon dried thyme leaves
1 tablespoon dried oregano
2 smoked chile pods (I used one chile ancho and one pasilla)
salt and pepper
*Normally, I would add termeric, but I was out of it 

I seeded and stemmed the pods after toasting. I used two pods for my spice blend. 

 Onion and garlic are always a part of my chili. 

After toasting the pods and spices, and as I mentioned above, I stemmed and seeded all of the pods, and used two of them for my chili spice blend. I ground the coriander, chopped up the two chile pods and added it all to my spice grinder.  In the meantime, I also added the rest of the stemmed and seeded chile pods, a tablespoon of chopped onion and half a garlic clove, grated, to a half cup of water I'd brought to a boil, and reconstituted the remaining chile pods. While the chiles were reconstituting (soaking up moisture and becoming pliable) I chopped the remaining onion and garlic.  I will share the ingredients list for the rest of chili momentarily. 

Chile Paste:
4 roasted chile ancho pods, toasted, seeded and stemmed
1 tablespoon chopped onion
1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic
salt and pepper
1/2 cup water

Reconstitute the chile pods by bringing half a cup of water to a boil in a small sauce pan. Add the onion, garlic and pods, salt and pepper (pinch, each) and cover and remove from the heat once the water boils. Allow fifteen to thirty minutes. 

Add the chile pods, another tablespoon of chopped onion, another teaspoon of garlic and two tablespoons of the liquid to a mini food processor or blender.  Pulse until a paste forms. It should not be really thick, so add another tablespoon of the liquid, if needed.  It should not be a glob, nor should it be runny.  Go from there. 

Chili Ingredients:
1 large yellow onion, chopped, 1+1 tablespoons, separated
1 clove garlic, grated and halved = 2 cloves, grated or finely chopped
1 28-ounce can Cento crushed tomatoes
2 tablespoons Cento tomato paste (Note, I am not a spokesperson for Cento, but I love their products)
1 14.5-ounce can fire roasted tomatoes
2 cans black beans, rinsed
1 can red kidney beans, rinse 
*Or, you can  purchase 1.5 pounds dry pinto beans, rinse and soak them overnight.
Chili spice blend*   (Mine, or your own favorite)
1 pound lean ground beef (97% lean)
1 pound sustainable, prarie grazed bison
1 20-ounce bottle of Mexican beer (You already know which one I chose!)
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon liquid smoke
3 tablespoons evoo (extra virgin olive oil)
salt and pepper
1/2 cup pickled jalapenos with its juice
chile paste

Let's get cooking, shall we?

Add the evoo to a dutch oven over high heat. When the oil ripples, add the ground beef and the ground bison, a teaspoon of garlic and a tablespoon or two of the chile paste.  Reduce the heat to medium-high. Break up the meat and add salt and pepper and a heaping tablespoon of the chili seasoning. This may take a good 8 - 10 minutes to break the browning meat. While you do not want it chunky, you do not want it too loose, right away, either, as it will loosen, or break up further, when the wet ingredients are added and it simmers. 

Once the meat has browned and has a good crust on it, add the onions and garlic and stir them in well and allow it to cook about three minutes. No need to add salt with the spices already in with the meat. When the onions just begin to become translucent, add the tomato products, the rest of the chile paste, the jalapenos with juice, the Worcestershire sauce, the liquid smoke, but not the beer.  Not yet!

Thoroughly mix everything together, bring it all to a boil, and add another heaping tablespoon of the spice mix. Allow the flavors to marry over medium heat for several minutes.  

 Chili prior to adding the beans.

In the meantime, using a strainer or colander, open and add the cans of beans and thoroughly rinse all of the starch off of them.  Add the beans to the dutch oven and gently fold into the chili.  This will bring the temperature of the chili down temporarily.  Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat again, and add 3/4 of the bottle of beer.  Hey, you get to have the rest as a reward for all of you hard work!  Stir gently to fully incorporate the beer into the sauce.  Once it comes to a boil, reduce the heat all the way to low. 

Now, I followed in my dad's footsteps (he was a master at making chili; he made the best chili I have ever had in my life and I cannot fully duplicate it) and let it simmer on low-low for two hours, at least.  My dad sometimes let it simmer for upwards of four hours on the lowest heat setting, but I went with two hours.  I removed the lid after two hours and let it simmer another thirty minutes.  Then I turned off the heat and let it steam another thirty minutes, which allows the unnecessary moisture to escape, leaving  concentrated, incredible flavors. 

Serve in a big bowl with whatever your favorite garnishes are.  I used Fritos chips and micro cilantro greens.  

Thank You, once again, friends, for your time and consideration.  I hope you will make this dish this cold winter and enjoy it as much as I have!  





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