Bison Auction – Bison Chili

January 23, 2010  •  Meat & Poultry, One Dish Meals

Ever been to a real stock show? The National Western Stock Show in Denver is one of the oldest and quite a tradition in the area, with live shows, all sorts of competitions (riding, breeding, showing) kids’ events, rodeos, and of course, the most basic and maybe most important, the auctioning off of both live and processed animals. It’s also the only time my husband – who was raised on Long Island in New York – puts on his cowboy boots and pretends he’s part of the wild west.For the past few years several of my friends from Slow Food Denver have been organizing a group of people to join together and bid on Colorado bison at the show. When you bid on meat for consumption, the animal has aready been processed and the carcass is judged for quality of meat based on things like tenderness, color of fat, marbling, etc. This year about 40 of us were successful in landing the #2 and #3 ranked bulls from CO (Ted’s Montana Grill always bids as high as possible to grab the #1 bull so that’s nearly impossible to win) and the #2 and #4 heifers from CO for an average price of $2.60 per pound. The auction itself went quickly, 45 minutes for 27 bison, but it was a great example of supporting local ranchers. Slow Food’s participation in the bidding helps the ranchers to keep prices stable and helped to ensure that all 27 carcasses were sold. They’ll be further processed and packaged and ready for pickup soon, but the day inspired me to make a Bison Chili.

I should comment up front that this recipe is adapted from the third place winner in the Leyden Street Chili Cook-off from last summer that I helped to judge. Thanks to all of you who requested the recipe – this is for you!

Start by browning 3 pounds of ground bison – the winning recipe used beef, but I’m inspired by bison today which can be used interchangeably with ground beef in recipes. When it’s completely, browned, remove it to a bowl with a slotted spoon, leaving the drippings in the pot.Cook both the onion and the minced garlic in the drippings from the meat until they are softened, then begin adding the ingredients to build the chili.Beef broth – and notice that I chose the low sodium. Also, chili powder which I forgot to photograph.Beer – in this case a local Fat Tire, but the recipe actually calls for a stout or darker beer so use that if you have it on hand. A can of tomatoes including the juices – I used a jar that I canned from my garden last summer.Some chipotle peppers, which are actually smoked jalapenos that come packed in a tomato-ey adobo sauce and have all the seeds in them still. If you like things really hot, keep the seeds in and mince them up. I like a bit of heat, but not too much, so just removed the seeds and minced them up.Then let the whole thing simmer, partially covered to let some moisture out and allow the chili to thicken. Notice how totally soup-like this looks like right now? Not that appetizing yet. Depending on how much moisture is in your pot, it could take from one to two hours to fully thicken.When it’s ready, you’ll need to add the black beans. Again, I’d rather use the no salt added beans and add what salt I want to finish my dish so I can control the sodium level and taste.The beans really need to be rinsed to get that thick liquid off them before adding them to the pot.

Now, here’s the secret that really makes this chili. When we tasted the chili during the competition, we first tasted it solo, without the sour cream, and were unimpressed. But when we topped it with the lime crema, well, we were hooked. Simply mix together sour cream with lime zest and juice and serve the chili with that dolloped on top.

Chipotle Bison Chili with Lime Crema
Adapted from Nora Neureiter, Second Place Winner of the 2009 Leyden Street Chili Cookoff
Serves 12

3 pounds ground bison (or beef as Nancy used)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, optional (see instructions)
Salt and pepper
3 cups chopped onions, about 2 medium onions
6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/2 cup chili powder
2 14-ounce cans beef broth
1 14-ounce can crushed tomatoes with juices
1/2 cup stout or dark beer
4 minced canned chipotle chiles
2 tablespoons yellow cornmeal
2 15 1/2-ounce cans black beans, rinsed and drained
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 cup sour cream
1 lime, zested and juiced

Heat a large stock pot over medium high heat. If your ground meat is very lean, add 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil to the pot before adding the ground meat. Season with a little salt and pepper and cook until meat is completely browned, using a spoon to break up meat. Remove cooked meat to a bowl with a slotted spoon. Add onions and garlic to the meat drippings and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Return beef to the pot and add chili powder, broth, tomatoes, beer and chiles. Bring to a boil, reduce to low, cover partially, and cook until very thick, about 1-2 hours.

When chili is thick, stir in cornmeal and add black beans. Let simmer together for 10 minutes before serving. Combine sour cream with lemon zest and juice and serve chili in bowls with a spoonful of lime cream on top.


9 Comments  •  Comments Feed

  1. Lea Ann says:

    What a great post. Why didn’t I think about at least attending the stock show this year and posting something with a stock show theme. I posted a buffalo burger recipe from Colorado Classique a couple of weeks ago and had a gentleman comment who owned a 5,000 acre ranch in Wyoming and thanked me for the post and helping the bison cause. I was also surprised to learn that many of my East Coast readers don’t have access to buffalo meat like we do here in Denver.

    Thanks for this recipe – this chili looks wonderful.

    I was at Savory Spice yesterday and bought a new brand of Chili in Adobo. I’ll be interested to see if they’re any better than this brand pictured that I always buy.
    Thanks Michelle

    • Michele says:

      Lea Ann, I’m so sorry that your comment wasn’t initially posted and let me assure you that I didn’t delete it! I’m new to WordPress – on Blogger a comment only ended up in spam if I put it there. On my new WordPress site, the software tries to determine on its own if a comment is spam. Yours was probably lumped there because you included a link. I haven’t gotten in the mode of reviewing what’s in my spam comments (there are, unfortunately, tons of them, many quite gross!) to pull out the ones that ended there erroneously. I’ll hope you’ll continue to check out my blog – and I did delete your second comment after I was able to find your first and get it posted. Thanks for helping me get educated on how to use WordPress!

  2. Peter says:

    Hi, I didn’t know how to contact you so I left a comment here. I like to invite you to, a food & wine social network, where you can share photos, videos and a link to your own blog.

  3. Samantha says:

    I really truly love bison. There is a restaurant near by that makes a delicious bison sloppy joe.

  4. Barbara @ VinoLuciStyle says:

    I’ve lived in Denver for 24 years and think the stock show tradition something very special. I haven’t attended for awhile, admitting I typically went to take my kids when they were younger but I had never considered getting a group together to bid on livestock, so very cool story.

    I’ve been invited to a Super Bowl party/Chili cookoff; the pressure is on when you’re a cook and especially for me since chili is not my forte so THANK YOU. I’ll be trying this recipe…just perfect!

  5. kellypea says:

    How great that you got to judge a chili competition! It’s always sounded like fun to me. I just bought ground buffalo for the first time. Was going to make a shephard’s pie with it, but maybe, just maybe it needs to be this chili. Mmmm… (definitely have never been to a stock show.)

  6. Lea Ann says:

    Michele, thanks so much for your note. I’m glad you deleted my other comment. I over reacted and didn’t think about your new website and glitches.

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