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Bison Chili with Chocolate


I love bison meat and apparently bison are gentler on the environment than traditional cattle. It’s a shame bison meat is not more popular or available, but you can usually find it ground in the meat section of well-stocked grocery stores. 

Make sure you don’t use more chocolate than is called for, or the dish will be cloyingly sweet. You can swap out the Rebosero beans for whatever beans you like or have on hand, but I enjoy their texture and bean broth, and I can picture the farmer who grows them for us, so I also have a sentimental attachment to using them here. 

Serves 6 

  • 1 pound ground bison
  • 1/4 cup olive oil, plus a little extra if needed 
  • 1 white onion, chopped 
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/3 cup New Mexican Red Chile Powder 
  • 2 tablespoons dried Oregano Indio 
  • 2 tablespoons ground cumin 
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 tablet Rancho Gordo Stoneground Mexican Chocolate, grated fine or broken into pieces
  • 2 cups drained cooked Rebosero Beans, plus 1 cup cooking liquid
  • 1 red bell pepper, roasted, peeled, seeded, and chopped 
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, roasted, peeled, seeded, and chopped 
  • 1 cup stale beer
  • 1 tablespoon Rancho Gordo Sal de Mar 
  • Scant 1 teaspoon sugar, if needed
  • Corn bread for serving
  1. In a large pot, cook the bison meat over medium heat, stirring and breaking it up with a wooden spoon and adding a little oil if the meat is particularly dry. When the meat is no longer pink, using a slotted spoon, transfer it to a bowl and set aside. Add the 1/4 cup oil to the pot and sauté the onion and garlic over medium heat until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the chile powder and stir until a paste forms. “Fry” the paste for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the oregano Indio, cumin, and 1 cup of the water and mix well. Reduce the heat to low and cook for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. 
  2. Add the chocolate and stir until incorporated. Add the beans and the 1 cup liquid, the bell peppers, the beer, the salt, the remaining 1 cup water along, and the reserved meat. Stir well, taste, and adjust the seasoning with salt as needed, keeping in mind that the flavors will intensify as the chili cooks down. Cover partially, reduce the heat to very low, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the flavors are blended, about 45 minutes.
  3. Taste and adjust the seasoning again. If the chili is a little bitter, add the sugar to smooth the flavors. Spoon the chili into warmed individual bowls and serve immediately, accompanied with corn bread.


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