Buffalo and Black Bean Chili


Some like it hot!

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Bonnie Published by
  • 2 lbs ground bison or lean beef
  • 2 T oil (like Smart Balance or Crisco)
  • 2 yellow onions, diced
  • 2 red bell peppers, seeded & diced
  • 2 green bell peppers or poblanos, seeded & diced
  • 3 jalapenos, seeded and diced (or more if you like it spicy)
  • 2 cups shredded eggplant (trust me on this)
  • 3 large cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 28oz can whole peeled tomatoes with juice
  • 2 16oz cans black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 4 Tbsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 small potato, quartered, just in case
  • Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
  • Sour cream, cheese, and green onions for garnish

Whether you opt for buffalo or beef, celebrate the first cold front of the season (and all that follow) with a piping hot bowl of Texas chili. This version uses lots of fresh veggies that just melt into the sauce along with lean meat for a bowl of heart-warming and heart-healthy goodness. For those of you too busy to cook on the weeknights, this freezes and reheats quite well. For those of you with kiddos (or other picky diners), this is a ninja-stealth way to sneak in those veggies. No one will ever know they’re stuffing their faces with antioxidants and fiber. You can easily double or halve this recipe for the appropriate crowd, but this serves about 8 adults or 6 hungry guys with a side of cornbread and a Real Ale Fireman’s #4 or St. Arnold’s Oktoberfest.

The How-To

In a heavy-bottomed pot or dutch oven, heat oil over med-high heat and gently break up the ground bison or beef (grassfed is the best!) as you drop it in the pot. Season with salt & pepper and saute, stirring a few times for 5 minutes or until browned. Stir in the onion, peppers, eggplant and garlic; then add the chili powder and cumin, and stir to coat the whole mixture in the spices.

Pour the tomatoes and their juices into a separate mixing bowl, take off any rings you may have on, and crush the tomatoes into bits by hand. Dump the goop into the chili mixture along with your (rinsed and drained) black beans and bay leaves, and 1/2 c. water. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook over low heat for at least an hour, and up to several hours, though you may need to give it a beer to keep it happy that long, or it will dry out. Top with organic sour cream (it’s so much creamier than regular!), chopped green onions and shredded cheese, and serve with corn bread.

If the chili is too spicy, toss in that small quartered potato and cook for another 30 minutes. The starches in the potato will absorb any unwanted heat. The longer it’s in the pot, the more it will absorb. If it’s not spicy enough, sprinkle in some cayenne pepper. Stir, wait 5 minutes and then taste again.

Variations on a Theme

You can pretty much use any peppers you like. Lord knows we Texans are finicky about what goes in our chili and every one of us has his/her own take on the State dish. It just so happens that we get tons of variety of peppers in our CSA box and I use a handful of paprika peppers, banana peppers, red, yellow, green and purple bells, along with jalapenos. I wrote the recipe, however, based on the assumption that not everyone has access to fresh seasonal organic veggies from Hairston Creek Farm, and I tried to standardize it based on what I can get year-round at my HEB. If you do want access to aforementioned deliciousness, check your local farmer’s market or go to www.localharvest.org to find the nearest CSA and do yourself a favor and sign up.

A note on picking out chili peppers: generally, the curlier the stem, the hotter the pepper. For those sneaky ones that turn out 5 times hotter than the others, refer to the potato rescue technique above.

When it comes to chopping potentially spicy peppers, I usually core them, spoon out the seeds and chop them quickly, being careful to wash my hands immediately afterwards. You can also pulse the cored and seeded flesh a few times in the food processor (or dust off that shredder attachment and chop all your veggies for this recipe in one step) if you don’t want to deal with it.

Oh, and for all you vegan-tarians out there, you can always add more beans and veggies and leave out the bison or beef. Seriously, though, you should eat some meat.

4 Responses to “Buffalo and Black Bean Chili”

  • Laura:

    Sounds absolutely fabulous. Photo makes my mouth water! Loved the great commentative instructions. So creative and witty is my girl!

  • John:

    Beans? In MY Texas chili?!

  • Trent Walton:

    yes and it is tasty.

  • John Odum:

    You’re biased. But, then again, so am I!