In Season/On Special: Black Bean & Bison Chili

In the mood for chili but don’t feel like spending all afternoon cooking it? Believe it or not, chili can be a go to when you don’t have a lot of time to cook but feel like having something hearty and satisfying with a slow cooked flavor.

Based on an old recipe I had for Cuban style black beans and rice, I put together a quick chili last week using black beans and ground bison I discovered at Harris Teeter. Yes, the Harris Teeter on PA Ave … I did not need to make the trek to Northwest!  I also saw it at the 14th Street Safeway over the summer but haven’t looked for it there recently.  Bison, in case you’ve never tried it, is a great beef alternative. Not only are the bison sustainably and humanely raised, but bison contains only a fraction of the saturated fat beef does. It’s also nutritionally superior to beef, with higher levels of iron, protein and Omega 3’s. Last summer we made a lot of bison burgers cooked on the grill and found them super juicy and flavorful in spite of the relatively low fat content.

Here’s the general idea for a quick chili that will serve about 4 – 6 with leftovers:

Sauté a chopped onion and a few cloves of garlic in a few tablespoons of olive oil until soft. Meanwhile, sauté a pound of crumbled ground bison (could also use turkey, beef, lamb or veggie crumbles) in a separate pan in another few tablespoons of olive oil until it’s a medium pink. Add salt, pepper and a few shakes of Worcestershire sauce. Drain and set aside.

To the pan with the onions and garlic, add a 16 oz can of drained black beans, a 32 oz can of crushed tomatoes, a few heaping teaspoons each of cumin, coriander, chili powder, salt and ground black pepper. Simmer together for about 10 minutes. Add the ground meat and simmer for an additional 10 minutes.

I serve this over rice and at the table pass bowls of grated cheese, chopped avocado, chopped cilantro, lime wedges and , of course, lots of hot sauce for garnish. It’s also good spooned into warm tortillas or taco shells.

Pair this with a sturdy everyday red wine. Malbec is one varietal to look for – its got a lot of body and a nice fruity but in most cases balanced taste. The Malbec grape is relatively low maintenance and disease resistant, therefore making it easier than many other grapes to grow. So you can find many inexpensive but tasty Malbecs at pretty much any wine shop or grocery store. You could also peruse First Vine’s “Everyday reds” section; it’s full of the typical food friendly Grenache/Syrah blends that Southern France is famous for.

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