Among the many things I brought with me from the American Southwest to Norway was my complete recipe collection — a digital black-and-white cookbook I compiled years ago containing all our favorite family recipes.
My mormor is always wondering what to cook for dinner when my brother and I are visiting. She often asks, what does your mom make? This summer, I opened my recipe collection and searched for a recipe that we make quite often. I came across mom’s Bison Chili and introduced it to her. Since then, although my grandparents tend to prefer traditional Norwegian food, the recipe has made its way into mormor’s repertoire.
This chili has often satisfied our little tummies after a long day at school, it has unintentionally won over a boy’s heart, and it has been prepared on several occasions for both large and small groups. Morfar’s birthday was our most recent chili dinner. After the extended family streamed in the front door, mormor said, “today we’ve made chili, I think it’s Mexican food.” I chuckled and said “who knows, but I think it’s probably tex-mex.”
Mom’s Bison Chili is simple yet flavorful. It’s one of those quick, one-pot dinners that can be made for lots of people while leaving little cookware to wash. And, it’s just spicy enough that it suits my taste but is still not too spicy for the Norwegian palate. (The first time mormor made chili on her own, she was afraid of the chili powder and used 1/4 teaspoon instead of the 2 tablespoons I suggested. There is no need to fear, chili powder is really not that strong.) I think this Bison Chili takes on the best flavor if it is made a day or at least several hours in advance.
Mom’s Bison Chili
1 Medium Onion, Diced
1 Garlic Clove
1lb Ground Bison (Bison is not available in Norway, use 450g Karbonadedeig)
2 15oz (425g) cans Kidney Beans, Drained
2 15oz (425g) cans Diced Tomatoes
½ tsp Cumin
2 tsp Chili Flakes
2 tbsp Chili Powder
In a large pot, add a dash of olive oil over medium heat. Sauté the onion and garlic until translucent, but not browned, about 5-10 minutes. Add the ground meat and break it up into smaller pieces. Fry the meat until it’s no longer pink, about 10 minutes. Add the beans and tomatoes. Stir. Add the spices and allow the chili to simmer for about 30 minutes.
Serve with grated cheese, sour cream, guacamole, and tortilla chips.
*I don’t usually make an elaborate guacamole. If the avocados are good, I usually just mash them and add a little salt. If I’m feeling extra fancy I might add fresh green chilis/Serrano peppers, chopped onion, lime juice, or seeded tomatoes.
* The longer the Bison Chili sits, the better the flavor. I like to make the chili a couple hours in advance, or the day before, allowing it to simmer for a longer time, then I chill it and heat it a little while before serving.