Paleo Bison Chili
Why This Recipe Works
While ground beef chili recipes are a dime a dozen, we decided that a chili made with ground bison would be a great way to incorporate a different protein into the paleo meal rotation. Bison has a much lower fat content than ground beef—about 2 percent compared to about 10 percent—which meant that we couldn’t treat it like beef. To build flavor, we tried browning all of the meat before adding any liquid, but we found that the finished texture was a bit dry and grainy. Instead, we sautéed only half of the meat and added the rest in small pieces after the chili had simmered for an hour. The meat added at the beginning melted into the sauce, giving it a rich, meaty flavor, while the pieces added later stayed moist and tender. Next, we turned our attention to finding an alternative for the canned tomatoes that make up the backbone of many a chili recipe. Although some chili recipes forgo the tomatoes for a hearty, meat-based version, tasters thought that tomatoes provided balanced flavor. We pulsed a full 3 pounds of fresh tomatoes in a food processor to approximate canned diced tomatoes, and tomato paste provided a deep, cooked tomato flavor. Next, since beans weren’t an option, we focused on additional veggies to round out our chili. Tasters liked red bell pepper and sweet potatoes for their bright and sweet notes that complemented the heat of the chili. Adding the sweet potatoes halfway through cooking ensured that they softened nicely but didn’t fall apart. The sweet potatoes also absorbed some liquid and released a small amount of starch, giving the chili a hearty, thick consistency.