I recently went through my four freezers, alternately defrosting each one, putting their contents in four coolers while the process was taking place.
While on this mission, I put the newer stuff on the bottom and the older on the top after all of the ice was removed from the freezers. I came to the conclusion that we probably could live quite comfortably on the contents, most of which came from my garden or hunting trips.
But there was one commodity that came from neither — about 5 to 10 pounds of ground bison. I procured this from one of my co-workers, whose parents used to raise buffalo. I like the ground bison because it is leaner and heartier than ground beef (it’s lower in fat and cholesterol). And the cost is considerably lower than if I would buy it in the supermarket, where it’s becoming commonplace.
One of my favorite uses for ground bison is in chili. And with winter in the wings, the following recipe for buffalo chili, along with one for cornbread, will go a long ways to warming you up on a cold day.
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 pounds ground buffalo meat
½ medium onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 poblano or Anaheim pepper, seeded and chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled, minced
¼ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon dried oregano
¼ teaspoon ground coriander
1 tablespoon ancho chili powder
Sea salt, to taste
Ground pepper, to taste
1 14.5-ounce can crushed fire-roasted tomatoes
2/3 cup low-sodium beef broth
½ tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons adobo sauce from a can of chipotles in adobo
1 bay leaf
1 15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 15-ounce can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1/3 bunch green onions, green parts only, sliced in rounds, for garnish
Chopped cilantro, for garnish
In a large pot (about 4-quart capacity) with a lid, heat oil over medium heat and add ground buffalo meat. Brown meat, breaking it up as it cooks. Cook for about 5 minutes or until all meat is browned. Remove from pot and discard excess fat, leaving about 1 tablespoon in the pot.
Add the onion, red and green bell peppers and poblano pepper and cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes, scraping bottom from time to time to get all the browned bits of meat folded in with the vegetables. Add the jalapeno pepper and cook for another 3 minutes, stirring from time to time. Add the garlic, cook for another minute and then add cumin, oregano, coriander, ancho chili powder, salt and pepper. Let spices cook for another minute, stirring.
Return browned meat to the pot. Stir in tomatoes and beef broth, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, adobo sauce and bay leaf, stir and bring to a boil. Once boiling, taste sauce and adjust salt and pepper to taste. Reduce heat to a slow simmer, cover with a lid and cook for about 30 minutes. Add beans and continue simmering, covered, for another 10 minutes or until beans are warmed through. Remove and discard bay leaf.
Serve in bowls and garnish with green onions and chopped cilantro.
Yield: Serves 8.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 340 calories (19 percent from fat), 7 grams fat (2 grams saturated), 35 grams carbohydrates, 35 grams protein, 900 milligrams sodium, 55 milligrams cholesterol, 10 grams fiber.
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 cup unbleached pastry flour or sifted all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
1½ teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
¾ cup yellow cornmeal
1 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon honey
4 tablespoons melted butter, more for the baking dish
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter an 8-inch-square baking pan.
In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cornmeal; set aside. In a small bowl, whisk buttermilk with eggs and honey. Whisk in the melted butter. Mix the wet ingredients with the dry until just combined. Pour batter into the pan. Bake 30 minutes until golden and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
Yield: Serves 9.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 190 calories (38 percent from fat), 8 grams fat (4.5 grams saturated), 23 grams carbohydrates, 5 grams protein, 450 milligrams sodium, 65 milligrams cholesterol, 1 gram fiber.