My Kicked-Up Cocoa-Chipotle, Espresso Stout, Black Bean, & Bison Chili

I’m a cooking nerd. I have a cookbook for sale (prelaunched last summer, it’ll be “relaunched” in the late-spring, and if you get the Gumroad PDF, you’ll get a free update when one comes out in the next three months).

This is my latest invention in the kitchen and it’s pretty awesome, plus super-healthy.

Bison is basically the highest in protein and lowest in fat when it comes to meat, and when it’s grass-fed local free range bison, you’re talking seriously flavourful low-fat high-protein. I’m trying to nix the inflammatory things in my life (like beef) and replace them with better choices (such as bison).

Bison & Black Bean chili with homemade skillet cornbread (see NY Times recipe for maple & brown butter skillet cornbread -- yum) and a lime-cilantro yogurt.

Bison & Black Bean chili with homemade skillet cornbread (see NY Times recipe for maple & brown butter skillet cornbread — yum) and a lime-cilantro yogurt.

I doled out $13 for a pound of bison reared less than an hour from town. I had a couple 19-oz cans of $2 organic black beans, two 19-ounce cans of high-grade organic tomato pulp from Italy, and a $7.90 bottle of local craft beer, Hoyne Brewing’s Voltage Espresso Stout — a seriously coffee’d beer.

All that translates to a batch of chili ringing in above $30. Zoinks. This won’t be a regular occurrence at my house, but ohmigod, hello, happy place.

Thus I would like to share with you my labour-of-love long-stewed uber-expensive chili that will make you think maybe there should be a little more high-end chili on the menu in this hipster joints around town.

Without ado:

Steff’s Kicked-up Cocoa-Chipotle,
Espresso Stout, Black Bean, & Bison Chili

Best made in a cast-iron Dutch oven. You’re gonna need a 5qt thingie for cooking this. Lid, too.

  • 1 pound bison (or organic beef or pork)
  • 1 tablespoon bacon fat or olive oil or butter
  • 1 large onion, chopped finely
  • 8 cloves of garlic
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin*
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander*
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder*
  • 1-2 canned chipotle peppers chopped finely — 2 is VERY spicy, 1 medium, go for ½ if you’re timid
  • 1-2 teaspoons adobo sauce from the canned chipotles (same heat scale — 2 very spicy, etc)
  • 750 ml espresso stout (or other strong stout but the espresso is a nice touch, beef stock if you avoid booze)
  • 2 x 19oz tomato pulp or diced tomatoes (not puree or sauce)
  • 2 x 19oz cans black beans (drained and rinsed well)
  • generous salt (taste as you go; salt absorbs over time and the flavours change, so taste it after 2 hours then every one hour, and adjust each time. Overall, I used a couple tablespoons of coarse sea salt.)
  • chopped or diced avocado to garnish
  • lime-cilantro strained yogurt (see recipe following)

Brown the bison. Reserve. Don’t bother straining the fat; there’s very little and it’s the “good” fat, plus: flavour.

Heat your bacon fat/butter/oil in the same pan. Add onions. Cook for about 5 minutes over medium. About halfway through, add your spices, cocoa, chipotle, and adobo and cook for a couple more minutes. Add the garlic, cook another minute. Deglaze the pan with your bottle of beer. It seems like a LOT of beer, but you’re cooking it down for HOURS and all that’s left is the espresso-stout flavour, not liquid.

Let it cook for 2-5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, bison, black beans, and a whack of salt. Let it come up to a light boil, then simmer on LOWEST HEAT for the next 4-6 hours. After 3 or so hours, start to cover it. Stir it regularly. It’s done when your wooden spoon stands straight up for at least a minute and the flavours seem to make a symphony of yum in your mouth.

See below for lime-cilantro yogurt.

See? The spoon stands up. It was still standing three minutes later. This is when you know it is done. Seriously.

See? The spoon stands up. It was still standing three minutes later. This is when you know it is done. Seriously.

Lime-Cilantro Strained Yogurt

You can do this with sour cream too, but I’m assuming you’re spending $13/lb for grass-fed bison because you’re trying to be healthy like I am, so let’s go for yogurt.

Now I believe in the “healthy fats are fine” axiom which means my yogurt’s a 6% fat minimum. Use Balkan Style or Greek yogurt. If you’re going for low-fat yogurt, seriously, just skip it, because that shit’s not even good for you, and the lower the fat content, the less strained yogurt you’ll have to work with. Similarly, the higher the fat, the less wasted whey to throw out at the end.

Either go for the fat and eat natural food or skip the processed low-fat crap. Sorry, but someone’s gotta straighten people out and I volunteered.

Anyhow, to make strained yogurt: Line a sieve with thick paper towel, position it over a bowl, dump your 750ml of full-fat Balkan or Greek yogurt into it, let it strain for 4 hours, and it’ll be thick and rich and you’ll not miss sour cream at all.

  • 750 ml full-fat Balkan or Greek yogurt (rinse and keep the container for storage; expiry date = yay!)
  • Juice of a large, heavy lime (heavier = juicier)
  • Cilantro to taste (I used ½ a medium bunch, plus stems)
  • Salt to taste

Puree this all together, season it, and refrigerate until needed. Good until the yogurt expires or cilantro tastes funky.

Use as a topping on chili, tacos, baked potatoes, hash browns, etc.

*If you’re scared of HOT stuff, just cut back on the chipotle and the adobo sauce. The * spices won’t really move the Richter scale. They’re all about flavour, and you like flavour, don’t you?