Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Winter comfort food: Microbrew Bison Chili

This hearty chili is a year-round staple at our house, but it's especially good when the air is frosty. We like it with a hefty stout (beer) in the stew and on the table, but tannic red wine (such as zinfandel or cabernet) works very well for both uses.

Recipe: Microbrew Bison Chili
Serves 6-8

3 T canola oil, divided
1 large onion, diced
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 red bell pepper, coarsely chopped
2 ribs celery, thinly sliced
½ cup diced green pepper (optional)
3 T good-quality chili powder
½ teaspoon chipotle powder, or more to taste
1 15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 15-ounce can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 large can diced tomatoes, preferably no-salt-added
1 cup frozen corn kernels, thawed
1 cup water
1 pound ground bison (buffalo)
1 bottle dark beer, such as stout
Salt, to taste

1. Heat 2 T of the oil in a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Add next five ingredients (onion through green pepper) and sauté, stirring frequently, until veggies start to soften, about 4 minutes.
2. Stir in chili and chipotle powders. Add next 5 ingredients (black beans through water) and stir well. Reduce heat to medium, cover pan.
3. Meanwhile, heat the remaining 1 T oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add bison and cook, crumbling meat with a wooden spoon as it cooks. When the meat has no pink left in it, remove with a slotted spoon and add to the chili.
4. Stir in beer, and add more water if you want a more soupy consistency (leave it as is if you prefer stew-like chili). Cover pot, reduce heat to low, and let the chili simmer for at least 15 minutes to let all the flavors combine.
Season with salt to taste.

Serve over rice, with corn chips or (my favorite) cornbread.  Pass a bowl of grated jack or cheddar cheese at table. Freeze the leftovers and enjoy again on another cold winter night.

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