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Bison Mole Chili

Since no one can get out for lunch on "Christmas in the Village" Saturday, Associate Wine Guy Jim Bandy brought a pot of chili to work last Saturday. And, what a pot of chili it was! Here's the recipe....

I'm not a fan of overly hot chili, and lean towards this version instead. The combination of ancho chili with chocolate and cinnamon produces rich and warming flavors with only a hint of heat. Use one of the hot sauces from Grapevine Cottage to adjust the heat if you like it hotter. Like all chili, this one is best the next day.

Serves 6 to 8

3 pounds bison, or very lean ground beef
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cups chopped sweet onions
6 cloves garlic, minced
14-ounce can tomato sauce
1 tablespoon tomato paste
3 cups cooked kidney beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups beef stock
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
3 teaspoons fresh ground cumin
2 tablespoons ground ancho chili powder *
4 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
2 1/2 teaspoon Saigon cinnamon (you might need more if you're using normal cinnamon)
1 tablespoon dried oregano
2 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

* Not chili powder. You can substitute chili powder but adjust the volume accordingly. Most chili powders are a mixture of spices, and are much hotter than the ancho chili powder referenced here. I use the dried Ancho chilis from The Grapevine Cottage and grind them in my spice blender. Dried ancho chili powder is also available at some stores like Penzey's.

Brown the bison in a large pot over medium heat. Pour off juices and remove bison to a plate. In same pot, add olive oil, onions, and garlic. Cover and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Stir periodically.

Return bison to pot, along with all remaining ingredients. Bring to a simmer, and cover. Cook about 1 hour, stirring periodically. Remove from heat and let sit for an hour. Adjust seasonings to taste. Garnish with a dollop of sour cream.