Butternut Bison Blue Cheese Chili

Butternut Blue Cheese Bison Chili

Butternut Bison Blue Cheese Chili

Welp, it’s chili weather. Chili is basically the best fall/winter dinner ever. It’s easy to throw together, super cozy, and you can really feel good about it because it’s chock full of fiber and protein (and SPICE!) Also because it makes me feel like I’m watching football, even if I’m not. (What, is that weird?)

I usually make my chipotle sweet potato chili but I was in the mood to mix it up this week. I had some butternut squash to use up and figured it’d be a great chili ingredient, along with your requisite beans and meat (in this case, ground bison—it has a sweet, meaty taste with tons of protein and it’s way leaner than ground beef. Thanks, bison!).

To keep things interesting, I decided to top this one with a sprinkle of gorgonzola crumbles and Louisiana hot sauce—blue cheese and butternut squash is lovely together, and obviously hot wings have taught us that blue cheese and hot sauce are also a match made in heaven. I’m pretty proud of this flavor combination, y’all!

Butternut Blue Cheese Bison Chili

1lb natural ground bison – I like to use TenderBison 
1 cup chicken or beef broth
1/2 cup red wine
1 large can diced tomatoes
1 can black beans
1 can chili beans (mix of pintos, black, and kidney)
1 yellow onion, diced
1 red pepper, chopped
2c butternut squash, peeled and cubed
2c sliced crimini mushrooms
1/2c pumpkin puree (optional)
2tbsp balsamic vinegar
1tbsp coconut oil
Chili spices: sea salt, cracked black pepper, cayenne powder, garlic powder, smoked paprika, cinnamon
Toppings: Louisiana Hot Sauce to taste, blue cheese crumbles

Get out your big soup pot and head it over medium heat. Add the coconut oil, wait for it to melt, and add your onions, pepper, and squash. Sprinkle with some salt and pepper for good measure. While that softens, brown the bison in a skillet over medium high heat—bison doesn’t take too long to cook, probably 10 minutes, tops. Once it’s browned, add it to the veggies in the pot and mix in the tomatoes, beans, mushrooms, wine, and stock. Let that all cook together on medium high heat for a few minutes and add your spices.

It’s hard to say exact amounts of all the spices because my preferred method of seasoning chilis is to throw a ton of everything in and taste along the way until it’s exactly right. Ha! I probably used 3tbsp each of the cayenne, garlic, and paprika. About 1tbsp of cinnamon and just add the pepper and salt to taste. This is a big pot of chili so you might need more than you think… but no need to oversalt with all these other great flavors going on. In addition to topping with hot sauce, I also threw a few healthy dashes into the chili pot itself. I like adding the balsamic to give it a little bit of sharpness and acidity.

If your chili seems too thin, I like to stir in some pumpkin puree. It thickens everything right up,  but doesn’t make your whole meal taste like pumpkin or anything like that. Once the chili is to your desired thickness and spiciness, ladle into big bowls and top with a healthy sprinkling of blue cheese crumbles and as much hot sauce as you can handle.

This recipe should make about 6 servings.

For more healthy recipes, cocktails, food travel, and restaurant reviews, check out ES Emily’s individual blog, A Time to Kale, or tweet her @emilyteachout.

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