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"Is It Any Wonder" Texas - Style Bison Chili {Recipe & Video}

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A cold winter night calls for a big comforting bowl of chili. Even better, make it this tasty bison chili. It is super easy to make, just as flavorful as beef but a bit leaner.

This chili is cooked like normal beef chili as in no beans, just ground bison, chili gravy, and peppers. There are a few twists that help make this bison chili recipe next level. Make sure you read the detailed notes and instructions to unlock all that extra flavor.

bison chili in white bowl topped with onions, jalapenos, and red onions

Beats and Eats (Song pairing for Bison Chili)

Bison chili is a bit modern but has a really old soul. In this way it's like a Durand Jones & the Indications song, specifically "Is It Any Wonder." The song is smooth and intense at the same time. And that's basically what you get from the chili. Obviously the spices and chilis provide the intensity, but that pureed tomato base provides that smooth character.

Ingredients Need To Make Bison Chili

  • Ground Bison
  • Onions
  • Garlic cloves
  • Poblano Peppers
  • Red Bell Pepper
  • Ground Ancho Chili Pepper
  • Ground Guajillo Chili Powder
  • Smoked Paprika
  • Kosher Salt
  • Black Pepper
  • Dried regano
  • White bread
  • Pureed San Marzano tomatoes
  • Beef Stock
  • Beer (Stout)
  • Brown sugar
  • Cumin
  • Cider vinegar

How To Make Bison Chili (Step by Step)

There is nothing tricky about making bison chili. Just treat this recipe like a typical beef based chili, which if you're from Texas is the standard. I did borrow a technique from Oaxacan soup cooking to level up the flavor in this chili.

Step 1: Make the Puree

Place the bread into a bowl. Top with the chicken stock and allow the bread to absorb most if not all of the stock. Bread should soak at least 30 minutes so plan for the additional time.

Heat a skillet on medium heat. Add oil then saute the tomatoes and garlic for 1-2 minutes. Transfer the tomatoes and garlic along with the bread and puree.

Clean the skillet and set aside.

Step 2: Make the Bison chili

Preheat the cleaned skillet. Add more oil then brown the ground bison until fully cooked. Drain the bison in a paper towel-lined bowl.

Pre-heat a large pot or dutch-oven over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook fully on both sides. Remove the bacon and set it aside.

Add the garlic, onions, and peppers and saute in the leftover bacon grease. Add some of the spice seasonings as you go.

Add the beer and cook long enough to cook off the alcohol (about 3-4 minutes)

Add beef stock, more of the seasoning and tomato bread puree mixture.

Add the ground bison back to the pot plus the remainder of the seasoning. Bring to a boil then simmer the chili covered for an hour.

During the last 30 minutes of cooking add the brown sugar, cider vinegar, and cumin. Mix all the ingredients one last time.

Top with your favorite toppings. Be as simple or complex as you desire.

bison chili in white bowl topped with onions, jalapenos, and red onions

Tips and Considerations For Making Bison Chili

  • Bison is leaner than beef, so not as flavorful. If you prefer more flavor then crank up the seasoning used or add some more fat. For me, the bacon was more than enough, but you could also supplement the ground bison with ground pork, a fattier beef, or even chorizo. It's your call.
  • If going with the bread enhancer, use white bread. It will absorb the stock better and more easily integrate into the puree. Plus it's more flavorful.
  • Bison is becoming more mainstream though it will never have the same availability as most commercial meats. Many meat markets at your typical grocery store will have it pre-packaged. Likewise, specialty stores will definitely have it.
  • I typically eat this as a one-dish meal topped with cheese, fresh jalapenos peppers, and pickled red onions along with a sprinkle or two of hot sauce. I know many who like a side of cornbread. For me, if I go the bread route it's either this hot water cornbread or my classic buttermilk biscuits.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can this chili be cooked in crockpot?

Yes, it can. I'm not much for crockpot cooking as I see it as a warming tool. But if you should use one be mindful of the amount of liquid. The steaming action will water down the flavor some.

Is Bison Chili Keto?

No it's not because of the beer and the bit of brown sugar. You can definitely adjust the recipe to fit your keto needs. Cinnamon can be used as a substitute for sugar.

Can You Add Beans To This Recipe?

Technically, you can add whatever you want. I'm from the school of no beans in chili. I'm not against beans, but I do think you have to call this something different if you add beans.

bison chili in white bowl topped with onions, jalapenos, and red onions

For other similar recipes try these:

Beef Brisket Chili

Bison Steak Salad

Texas Classic Chili

Braised Beef Neckbones

Beef Stew

bison chili in white bowl topped with onions, jalapenos, and red onions

Texas Style Bison Red Chili

Texas-style bison chili that is intensely flavored & silky smooth. Fresh & ground chilis are combined to help make a tasty chili gravy.
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American, Texan
Servings: 6 people
Calories: 351kcal
Author: Marwin Brown

Ingredients

  • 1 pound ground bison
  • 4-5 slices bacon
  • 1 large onion
  • 5 cloves garlic chopped
  • 2 large poblano peppers
  • 1 medium red bell pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground ancho chili pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground guajillo chili pepper
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon oregano
  • 2 slices white bread
  • 28 ounces san marzano tomatoes 800g
  • 3 cups beef stock 700 ml
  • 12 ounces stout beer
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar

Instructions

Step 1: Make the Puree

  • Place the bread into a bowl. Top with the chicken stock and allow the bread to absorb most if not all of the stock. Bread should soak at least 30 minutes so plan for the additional time.
  • Heat a skillet on medium heat. Add oil then saute the tomatoes and garlic for 1-2 minutes. Transfer the tomatoes and garlic along with the bread and puree.
  • Clean the skillet and set aside.

Step 2: Make the Bison chili

  • Preheat the cleaned skillet. Add more oil then brown the ground bison until fully cooked. Drain the bison in a paper towel-lined bowl.
  • Pre-heat a large pot or dutch-oven over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook fully on both sides. Remove the bacon and set it aside.
  • Add the garlic, onions, and peppers and saute in the leftover bacon grease. Add some of the spice seasonings as you go.
  • Add the beer and cook long enough to cook off the alcohol (about 3-4 minutes)
  • Add beef stock, more of the seasoning and tomato bread puree mixture.
  • Add the ground bison back to the pot plus the remainder of the seasoning. Bring to a boil then simmer the chili covered for an hour.
  • During the last 30 minutes of cooking add the brown sugar, cider vinegar, and cumin. Mix all the ingredients one last time.
  • Top with your favorite toppings. Be as simple or complex as you desire.

Video

YouTube video

Notes

  • Bison is leaner than beef, so not as flavorful. If you prefer more flavor then crank up the seasoning used or add some more fat. For me, the bacon was more than enough, but you could also supplement the ground bison with ground pork, a fattier beef, or even chorizo. It's your call.
  • If going with the bread enhancer, use white bread. It will absorb the stock better and more easily integrate into the puree. Plus it's more flavorful.
  • Bison is becoming more mainstream though it will never have the same availability as most commercial meats. Many meat markets at your typical grocery store will have it pre-packaged. Likewise, specialty stores will definitely have it.
  • I typically eat this as a one-dish meal topped with cheese, fresh jalapenos peppers, and pickled red onions along with a sprinkle or two of hot sauce. I know many who like a side of cornbread. For me, if I go the bread route it's either this hot water cornbread or my classic buttermilk biscuits.

Nutrition

Calories: 351kcal | Carbohydrates: 22g | Protein: 22g | Fat: 19g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 7g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 63mg | Sodium: 1406mg | Potassium: 953mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 1355IU | Vitamin C: 84mg | Calcium: 109mg | Iron: 5mg
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Recipe Rating




Chandice

Monday 24th of January 2022

Oh my goodness we loved how hearty this bison chili was! Perfect for a delicious winter meal and I love using the leftovers for nachos!

Silvia

Sunday 23rd of January 2022

I love everything about this recipe, from the chiles to the tomatoes; the only thing is that I cannot find bison where I live. Do you know where I could get it? What other meat could I use?

Marwin Brown

Sunday 23rd of January 2022

The recipe works fine with ground beef or other meats like veal, lamb, or pork. For bison, if it's not at your local big box grocery store you might want to try to find a butcher. They'll either have it or recommend a spot.

Cathleen

Sunday 23rd of January 2022

Chili is probably the #1 recipe that I make during the winter. I love this version so much!!

sara

Saturday 22nd of January 2022

This was my first time making bison chili and boy was it delicious! My whole family gobbled it up.

Kayla DiMaggio

Saturday 22nd of January 2022

This bison chili was so delicious! We recently started eating bison and much prefer it over beef! Such a great recipe!