A few years ago I took an epic journey to the Southwest – boarded a plane from Tampa to Chicago and then took the Amtrak Southwest Chief through America's heartland into Albuquerque, New Mexico. For two weeks, I traveled across the mystical lands of desert, buttes, canyons, and pueblos. In search of nature. In search of history. And in search of food …
The food of New Mexico is a blending of cultures – indigenous peoples, Spanish, and Americana. As I went from restaurant to taqueria to food truck to diner, there was one commonality: passion. No matter what the dish, there is a fiery passion that imbues the New Mexican dining experience – from picking ripened New Mexican chile peppers under a blazing sun, to blending tomatillos and garlic and vine-ripened tomatoes for fresh sauces, to writing the family history in the inside cover of a menu or paper placemat. The food of New Mexico is just as stunning as the exotic landscape from which it sprang hundreds of years ago.
Upon my return to tropical Florida, loaded with cookbooks from Santa Fe to Taos to Chaco Canyon, I began to experiment with ingredients I had yet to use in my own kitchen, even ordering items I couldn't find directly from the source. But as with anything I make, I typically try to use what's in my pantry before heading out to purchase yet another spice or herb. The below recipe is easily adaptable to what you have on hand – but the two things I would encourage you to seek out are ground bison and hominy.
Ground bison can be found in many grocers today (often frozen) and, if you are a red meat lover, it is a wonderful (and healthier) alternative to beef. If you are a vegetarian, you can easily omit the meat. Hominy is corn kernels, which have been soaked in either a lime or lye solution which removes the hull and plumps up the corn nearly twice its size. It has a nutty flavor and is chewy, adding a wonderful texture to chili. You can find it in most grocers sold in cans distributed by Goya and Juanita's brands.
There's nothing better than comfort food in the dead of winter, especially when a silly groundhog from Pennsylvania has declared another 6 weeks of winter! This chili will warm the belly and just might get you to start thinking of making a trip to New Mexico!
• 1 lb Ground Buffalo
• 1 Vidalia Onion (Chopped)
• 2 Garlic Cloves (Diced)
• ½ tsp Chili Powder
• ¼ tsp Cayenne Pepper (omit, if you don’t like hot & spicy)
• Salt & Pepper to taste
• 1 tsp Mexican chili powder
• 1/4 tsp Mexican oregano (crumbled in between palms)
• 1/4 tsp Cumin
• 14 1/2 oz Dark Kidney Beans (drained)
• 1 Quart of Canned Tomatoes
• 1 Can Hominy (drained)
• ½ – 1 Cup of Water, depending on the consistency you desire
• 1/4 Cup green onions (sliced from top to light green area of bulb)
• 1/2 Cup fresh diced tomato
• 1 Can sliced black olives
• 1/4 Cup sour cream
• 1/3 Cup cheddar cheese
1. Sauté buffalo meat, onions, and garlic.
2. Add chili powder through cumin until the aromas start to burst.
3. Add tomatoes, kidney beans, and hominy.
4. Bring to a boil then simmer for 15-30 minutes, or longer to blend flavors.
5. Top chili with onions, tomatoes, olives, sour cream, and cheese