Macheesmo

Cooking with Confidence
Probably the best chili I've ever made.
Main Dishes, Soups, Spicy

Buffalo Chili

by Nick

Chili is always an intimidating thing for me to make due to people’s chili allegiances. Similar to ribs, people have serious beliefs on what chili should be: beans, no beans, beef only, etc. It can get a little crazy so I’m always a bit hesitant to make it for fear of causing a chili feud.

But it’s fall and it’s football season, and sometimes I just need chili. So for the last poll, I posted only chili recipes, and then ended up making one that wasn’t even an option to vote for: buffalo. Allow me to explain! First, beef won and for chilis buffalo and beef can be used pretty much interchangeably. Second, a commenter suggested I make buffalo instead of beef so it wasn’t really my idea to sabotage the poll (Hi Lauren!). Third, buffalo is delicious, inexpensive, and underrated so I wanted to use it.

Buffalo chili really hit the spot.

Buffalo Chili

Probably the best chili I've ever made.

This chili is spicy and has some intermediate elements to it like making your own chili powder. The final product is amazing though and you can of course take some short cuts if you want like using canned black beans or pre-packaged chili powder.

You can fret about getting chili perfect, but at the end of the day it’s probably going to be pretty darn good regardless of what you do.

Yield
Serves 6.
Prep Time
Total Time
Print Recipe

Buffalo Chili

Ingredients

  • Chili:
  • 1/4 Cup olive oil
  • 2 pounds buffalo (or beef) roast, trimmed of any large fat pieces and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • Salt, pepper, and a pinch of all-purpose flour
  • 1 large red onion, diced
  • 5 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 4 Tablespoons chili powder (I made a blend of ancho and New Mexico chilis.)
  • 1 Tablespoon ground cumin (roasted whole seeds are awesome)
  • 1 bottle dark beer
  • 2 Cups water (Bobby recommends chicken stock, but I think water makes the chili flavor really do all the talking.)
  • 1 (28 ounce) can stewed, crushed tomatoes
  • 4 chipotle peppers, diced (optional)
  • 1 Tablespoon honey
  • 1 Cup dried black beans or 2 Cups cooked
  • 1 lime, juice only
  • Chips for dippin'
  • Cumin Cream:
  • 1 Tablespoon toasted cumin seeds, crushed (you can use ground if that's all you have)
  • 1 Cup sour cream or creme fraiche
  • Salt and pepper
  • Guacamole: (or avocado relish as Bobby calls it...)
  • 2 avocados
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 1 jalapeno, finely diced
  • Lime juice
  • Chopped cilantro
  • Salt and pepper

Helpful Equipment

Directions

1) Cut roast into cubes and toss it lightly with 1 Tablespoon of flour and salt and pepper.

2) Heat up oil over high heat in a large pan with a lid. Once your oil is hot, brown the meat in batches and let it brown nicely on all sides for just a few minutes. The goal here isn’t to cook the meat, it’s just to brown it a bit and get some flavors going in the pan.

3) After a few minutes, remove all meat and set it aside. Take your pan off the heat until you’re ready to make your chili so all the bits of flavor in the pan don’t actually burn. Don’t wash your pan though!

4) For chili powder, split each pepper in half (remove the seeds and stems) and roast in a 200 degree oven for about 30-40 minutes. Let them cool for a few minutes. Give the roasted peppers a whirl in your spice grinder.

5) Put the pan back on the stove with about 4 Tablespoons of oil. Add red onions and start to cook them down. After a few minutes add garlic. After another minute or so add all chili powders and cumin!

6) Add your full bottle of beer. Open a beer for you. You deserve it.

7) Stirring pretty steadily, let the beer cook down in your onions and chili for about 10 minutes. It should reduce by about half.

8) Add your buffalo/beef back to the mix and then add all your other ingredients except the beans. Give it a good stir and bring it to a simmer.

9) Let this cook down on low heat, covered, for about 45 minutes. Give it a stir every 15 minutes or so.
Note: If you look at Bobby’s original recipe it says to add 5 Cups of liquid. If I would have done that, I would’ve made buffalo soup. Basically, I’d recommend adding enough water to just barely cover your meat and veggies.

10) For the Creme Fraiche (you could substitute sour cream) stir in a Tablespoon or so of cumin and stick it back in the fridge until you need it.

11) For the “Avocado relish” also known as guacamole, mix everything up in a bowl!

12) Once chili has cooked for about 45 minutes, uncover it and add beans and continue to cook it for another 15 minutes or so until it is nice and thick.

13) Taste it! What does it need? More heat? More salt? Adjust it accordingly. Serve it with a big scoop of avocado and cumin cream with lots of chips for dipping!


If you just break this dish into parts, it isn’t all that hard.

Preparing the meat

A good 2 pound roast is the best for a dish like this. You want there to be some fat throughout the meat which will make your meat really tender as it cooks. Cut your roast into cubes and toss it lightly with flour and salt and pepper.

You don’t want the meat actually coated in flour. You just want it to kind of dry out the meat a bit. I used maybe 1 Tablespoon for the whole 2 pounds of meat. You shouldn’t even be able to see the flour on the meat. Hit it with a really good pinch of salt and pepper also.

Buffalo meat.

Has some decent marbling on it.

Heat up your oil over high heat in a large pan with a lid. You’re going to make the chili all in one pan. Once your oil is hot, throw in all your meat and let it brown nicely on all sides for just a few minutes. The goal here isn’t to cook the meat, it’s just to brown it a bit and get some flavors going in the pan.

If you have little brown bits stuck to the pan, that’s a good thing! After a few minutes, remove all your meat and set it aside. Take your pan off the heat until you’re ready to make your chili so all the bits of flavor in the pan don’t actually burn. Don’t wash your pan though!

Buffalo meat browned.

Pretty much rare.

Making the Chili Powder

I think making your own chili powder can add a lot of personality to the dish. For my version I used two different kinds of chiles: The New Mexico Chile and the Ancho Chile. Neither of them are particularly spicy, but they have some good flavor.

Ancho chiles

I love these guys like family.

To make the powder, you just need to dry these guys out a bit more. Split each pepper in half (remove the seeds and stems) and roast them in a 200 degree oven for about 30-40 minutes. Then let them cool for a few minutes. They should be very crunchy after that.

Then just give them a whirl in your spice grinder and you’ll have really flavorful chili powder!

Chili Powder

Slightly different colors and flavors.

Obviously, you can make this earlier in the day or even days in advance if you are crunched for time. It will keep in an airtight container for awhile.

Other ingredients

It’s probably a good idea to get all your other ingredients ready as well before you start building the chili.

Chili Inredients

You'll want these guys also.

Not pictured are beans. I used some dry beans which I cooked according to the package (soaking the night before and boiling in slightly salted water.) You could definitely use canned though if you want. We’ll add in the beans at the very end of the chili.

Starting the chili

Remember that pan that you cooked the meat in? Get it back on the heat. You want there to be about 4 Tablespoons of oil in the pan so depending on how much oil your meat used and how much fat it gave off, you might need to add or remove some oil from the pan. I just kind of eyeballed it and ended up adding another Tablespoon of oil.

Next add your red onions and start to cook them down. After a few minutes add your garlic to the mix. Keep a close eye on this so it doesn’t burn. After another minute or so add all your chili powders and cumin! I also tossed in a bit of cayenne for some heat, but it might have been overkill!

This will make a dark and mysterious paste-like thing.

Starting chili

Intense flavors!

It will smell really strong which is awesome. Next, add your full bottle of beer. It will hiss and steam and smell even better.

Open a beer for you. You deserve it.

Cook it down

Stirring pretty steadily, let the beer cook down in your onions and chili for about 10 minutes. It should reduce by about half.

Adding everything else

Once it has cooked down a bit more, add your buffalo/beef back to the mix and then add all your other ingredients except the beans.

Give it a good stir and bring it to a simmer.

Buffalo Chili simmering

The simmer is on.

Let this cook down on low heat, covered, for about 45 minutes. Give it a stir every 15 minutes or so.

Note: If you look at Bobby’s original recipe it says to add 5 Cups of liquid. If I would have done that, I would’ve made buffalo soup. Basically, I’d recommend adding enough water to just barely cover your meat and veggies.

The Condiments

The condiments for this dish are optional, but I think they were a nice touch. For the Creme Fraiche, you could substitute sour cream, but just stir in a Tablespoon or so of cumin and stick it back in the fridge until you need it.

Cumin creme fraiche

Meanwhile make this!

For the “Avocado relish” also known as guacamole, mix everything up in a bowl!

Guacamole

And this!

Once your chili has cooked for about 45 minutes, uncover it and add your beans and continue to cook it for another 15 minutes or so until it is nice and thick. And as with most things: Taste it! What does it need? More heat? More salt? Adjust it accordingly.

Serve it with a big scoop of avocado and cumin cream with lots of chips for dipping!

Buffalo Chili

Some serious comfort food.

This is just one of those meals where you feel complete after eating it. It’s so perfect for a rainy day when you just want to curl up on the couch and eat some comfort food, but it’s equally good for pleasing a football watching crowd!

So while I’m no chili-officianado, I know what thing: This chili is good. And if you’re in need of some chili love, this recipe will provide it.