This chili features ground bison (buffalo), but feel free to use ground beef instead. Less tomatoey than many American chilis, this version is flavored with fresh poblanos and dried ancho chiles. Still, it's very mild, so add more heat to suit your taste. The cilantro crema on top is a bright note to the warm and deep flavors from the chiles.
Heat the oil in a large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the onion and peppers and cook until the onion turns translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic, bison, cumin, salt, oregano, cinnamon and cayenne and cook until the meat is no longer pink.
Add the tomato paste and cook until it darkens in color, scraping the bottom of the pot. Add the beer and reduce the heat to simmer while you make the chile sauce.
Meanwhile, heat a cast iron or other heavy bottom skillet over medium heat to toast the dried chiles. Have a blender jar on hand. Arrange them in a single layer in the pan. Use tongs to encourage them to lay flat and watch them carefully so they do not scorch. As soon as they chiles lighten in color and smell toasted, transfer them into the blender jar. Continue with the remaining chiles and remove the pan from the heat.
Add the hot stock to the blender jar and let the chiles soak for about 15 minutes. Then, blend to make a very smooth chile sauce. Strain, add the chile sauce to the stock pot along with the beans and bring it back to a simmer.
Cook the chili at a low simmer, uncovered, for about 20 minutes. Taste for seasoning and add additional salt and cayenne to taste. To thicken the chili, stir in the masa and simmer until thickened to your liking. Add the liquid smoke, if using, and adjust the amount to suit your taste. And, if you'd like your chili a bit thicker, whisk 1/2 cup of broth with the masa harina in a measuring cup and stir it in. Simmer until it reaches the thickness you like, or repeat if you'd like it thicker.
To make the cilantro crema, combine the sour cream, garlic and lime juice in the bowl off a food processor. Juice the lime and add the salt and process until blended well. Taste for lime juice and salt.
Serve bowls of the chili drizzled with the cilantro-lime crema, along with other chili accompaniments to your taste.
To cook dry beans, sort and rinse and soak 1 cup dried beans overnight. Cover with water by at least 2 inches in a saucepan and add a garlic clove, a wedge of onion, 1 bay leaf and 1 teaspoon salt. Bring to a simmer and boil until the beans are tender, about 40 minutes (or longer if the beans are unsoaked). Or, use a pressure cooker manufacturer instructions.
Copyright 2021 Lynne Curry