4 Bean Bison Chili

By: Jill O'Brien
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By Jill O’Brien

The last couple of weeks, we have had many visitors; Wild Idea Buffalo customers, old friends, new friends and a handful of Dan’s students. For me that means a lot of time spent in the kitchen. In addition, I am refining recipes for that cookbook that I hope someday will come to fruition.

It has been suggested that I blog about the cookbook process. That people would be interested in recipes, what it’s like living with a writer (my Renaissance man) and the happenings on a conservation driven buffalo ranch. Someone else suggested that I check out the “Pioneer Women”, a city journalist that married a rancher (her Marlboro man) and writes about ranch style cooking. I had heard about the “Pioneer Women” first through a friend (a local grass-fed cattle rancher, well educated, traveled and an amazing cook). Most country girls have a like story in their cupboard and are kicking themselves for not capitalizing on it. I perused through the “Pioneer Women” site and found it entertaining. In the section I read, the ingredient second most used was butter. As a dairy farmer’s daughter, I am not afraid to use butter, and believe in whole, real ingredients, but a little butter can go a long way.

Over the last few weeks, as I worked my way through some of my recipes, I found myself saying “agh – another head of garlic”! Clearly, my second ingredient. To confirm this, while grocery shopping the other day, I ran into a friend, we greeted in a hug and he said, “You smell like garlic”. “Thanks”, I said, “I could smell like butter – oh, never mind”.

I am not certain about blogging or even if I have the patience or talent for it. But – for right now, I am happy to be filling a thermos of Bison Chili, wrapping warm cornbread in a dish towel, sticking a bottle of wine in the picnic basket and heading out the door with Dan and Tootsie, to find our spot on the big, beautiful prairie for opening Dove season. Cheers! Jill

4 Bean Bison Chili

Serves 10


  • 2    pounds ground bison
  • 2    tablespoons olive oil
  • 1    onion, chopped
  • 2    tablespoons fresh garlic, chopped
  • 2    tablespoons cumin
  • 2½ tablespoons chili powder
  • ½   tablespoon oregano
  • ½   tablespoon thyme
  • 2    teaspoons coriander
  • ½   teaspoon each smoked paprika and cayenne
  • 1    tablespoon black pepper
  • 2    teaspoons salt
  • 1    Quart stewed tomatoes
  • 1    Quart tomato sauce
  • 8     golden pepperoncini, diced + juices
  • 1    15oz can each: butter beans, black beans, kidney beans, and pinto beans, (drained – but not rinsed)
  • 1     lemon, juiced (1/4 cup)
  • 2    cups water
  1. Mix all dry spices together.
  2. In heavy stew pot, over medium high heat, heat olive oil.
  3. Add Wild Idea bison meat, crumbling into small pieces.  Lightly brown, stirring constantly for 4 minutes.
  4. Add onion, garlic and seasonings. Continue to brown, stirring occasionally for 10 minutes.
  5. Add remaining ingredients and bring to a full boil. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered for ½ to 1 hour, or until desired thickness is achieved.

Adjust seasoning to taste. Garnish with fresh lime or lemon wedges, fresh chopped cilantro, sour cream, or grated cheddar cheese. Serve with Cheesy Jalapeño Corn Bread, (recipe included upon request with purchase).

Wine Pairing: My preference with Chili is a lighter Red. Try a French Beaujolais’.

2 Responses to “4 Bean Bison Chili”

  1. Christine

    Yum, Jill. I love buffalo chili and make it lots in the winter. It’s even entertained some folks at a chili supper/fundraiser a couple of times. This recipe gives me some good new ideas. I like to thrown in some Great Northern beans, too, in mine.

  2. Jess

    Good for you Jill! As an avid reader/follower of the Pioneer Woman blog I can tell you that she gets a lot of criticism for her excessive use of butter. Personally, I follow for the photography tips and if I occasionally find a recipe to try, I wind up tweaking the butter amount down a notch (or 5.) I think many people would love to find another food blog that would offer them healthier recipes. …Good luck! Hugs.


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