So while he was not particularly thrilled when he drew a bison calf permit, I immediately sifted through the recipe index in my head, dreaming of Bison Bolognese, Bison Osso Bucco, and Bison Zinfandel Chocolate Chili.
Bison Zinfandel Chocolate Chili
The first time I had this chili, my friend Melanie was simmering an enormous pot of it as the snow piled up outside her Jackson home. It never fails to evoke in me that feeling you get when a friend is cooking you something wonderful.
- 2 pounds bison meat, cut into 1 inch cubes, or ground
- 1 tsp. freshly ground pepper
- 1 tbsp. onion powder
- 1 tbsp. garlic powder
- 1 tsp. Kosher salt
- 2-4 Tbsp. olive oil
- 2 yellow onions, diced
- 2 cups carrots, diced
- 4 stalks of celery, diced
- 1 can of 24 oz diced tomatoes
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 bottle Zinfandel
- 3 cups chicken stock for the chili, 2 cups for simmering the beans
- 3 oz Mexican Ibarra chocolate
- ½ cup dried black beans soaked in water overnight (or 1 can precooked black beans)
- 2 bay leaves, one for the beans, one for the chili
- 1 cup dried cranberries
- Toppings: diced jalapeños, sour cream, shredded cheese, diced scallions, chopped cilantro
- If using cubed bison meat, season the meat with the salt, onion powder and garlic powder, and let rest overnight in the fridge. Omit this step if using ground bison (an acceptable shortcut).
- If using dried black beans, rinse well after soaking overnight, and place in a heavy saucepan. Cover with 2 cups of chicken stock, add one bay leaf, and simmer over medium heat until tender, making sure to add more stock or water to keep the beans covered. If you are using canned black beans (another acceptable shortcut), omit this step.
- Heat olive oil in a heavy saucepan over medium heat, and add the bison meat. Sear the bison cubes until browned, and set aside. If using ground meat, brown until no longer pink. Set meat aside.
- Using the same pan, sauté onions, carrots, celery, and garlic until lightly caramelized, about 10 minutes. Set aside with the meat.
- Deglaze the pan with half of the bottle of wine, turning the heat up to high, and scraping any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Simmer gently until the wine has reduced by half.
- Add the remaining 3 cups of chicken stock, the tomatoes, meat, cranberries, a bay leaf, and sauteed vegetables to the pot. Simmer for 15 minutes.
- Cover and reduce heat to a low simmer for 1.5-2 hours on top of the stove, or place the covered pan in an oven preheated to 200ºF. You could also place everything into a slow-cooker, and set it to low.
- When the meat is tender, add the black beans, remaining wine and chocolate. Cook on the stove over low heat until the chili gets thick. Remove the bay leaves and serve.
- Taste for salt and pepper, and adjust the seasoning.