Bison Chili with Heirloom Cranberry Beans, Poached Egg

Bison & Heirloom Bean Chili with Poached Egg

This recipe was loosely adapted from the Chasen’s Recipe, the famous chili that was shipped to Elizabeth Taylor when she was filming in Italy back in 1962. Heirloom cranberry beans and flavorful wild bison make this chili one that could be a contender in the next chili cook-off!

Smoked paprika and chili de arbol powder balance the chili with sweet smoke, earth, and heat notes. And I eschew the ubiquitous shredded cheese and diced onion topping for a silky poached egg. The runny yolk adds richness to the spicy stew.

Bison Chili with Poached Egg

Bison Chili with Heirloom Cranberry Beans & Poached Egg

The food Elizabeth Taylor had shipped to her at no small cost, while filming Cleopatra on the set in Rome – ten quarts of chili. Yes, chili from Chasen’s Restaurant in West Hollywood!

When she could pretty much order up anything she fancied, she chose the humble bowl of chili. That spicy stew with a history that goes back to the American frontier days has endless variations. Based on geography, legend, personal taste, and availability of ingredients recipes for chili vary widely but the passion for this beloved dish does not.

Bison & Heirloom Bean Chili with Poached Egg

Bison Chili with Heirloom Cranberry Beans & Poached Egg Recipe

Quite possibly more flavorful than beef, and perhaps a bit sweeter, I use ground bison as the meat in this chili recipe. At the turn of the 20th century bison were on the brink of extinction. Theodore Roosevelt and others formed the American Bison Society to help save the  species but it wasn’t until recently when ranchers and the meat industry successfully marketed bison, that the North American population reached over a half-million.

Lower in fat and cholesterol, higher in protein and iron than beef, bison is raised without antibiotics or hormones. They roam wild producing meat that is naturally leaner than cattle. Bison is, however, more expensive than ground beef due to the smaller supply and the higher expense to bring the product to market.

Heirloom Beans are superior to common beans. Untouched by genetic science and cultivated for thousands of years – there are over 10,000 varieties of heirloom beans and legumes. The cranberry bean is pale pink with maroon markings. When cooked it is plump, rich, and earthy. Its velvety texture makes it a perfect bean for stews.

Quality ingredients are the key to a fabulous finished dish.


  • 1/2 pound dry cranberry beans (about 1 cup)
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes with juice
  • olive oil for sautéing
  • 1 medium green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 jalapeño chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup parsley, chopped (reserve some for garnish)
  • 1 cup beef stock
  • 4 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 pound ground bison
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1 tablespoon chili de arbol powder
  • 1 teasoon salt, plus more to taste
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds, dry-toasted
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • poached eggs

Bison & Heirloom Bean Chili with Poached Egg


Place rinsed, picked-over cranberry beans in a heavy-bottomed pot. Cover with water. Boil for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand, covered for one hour. Drain and rinse beans. Place soaked beans back in the pot and cover with water 2 inches above the beans. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer covered, for one hour or until the beans are tender taking care not to overcook. Drain beans.

Meanwhile, sauté green pepper and onion in a bit of olive oil, when almost tender, add jalapeño and garlic and cook for a few more minutes. Place this mixture in the heavy-bottomed pot. Add diced tomato, parsley, paprika, chili powder, salt, and cumin. Blend tomato paste with one cup of hot beef stock. Add this mixture to the vegetables.

Heat a splash of olive oil in the sauté pan. Add ground bison, broken up into bite-sized pieces. Cook until browned. Add bison to the vegetable mixture. Finally, add beans, mix it all together, taking care not to break up the beans. Simmer over low heat for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Taste and adjust the salt. Ladle chili into bowls and top with a poached egg. Finish with a sprinkling of chopped parsley.

Food Network



Bison & Heirloom Bean Chili with Poached Egg

Comfort Food Feast is a season long franchise where Food Network editors team up with bloggers to share recipes about everyone’s favorite comfort foods. Be sure to check out our Pinterest Board with over 250,000 followers called Let’s Pull Up A Chair!

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And if my Bison Chili got you in the mood for all things chili, you might enjoy taking a peek at other comforting recipes from some fabulous bloggers below…

My Favorite Chili Recipe

Feed Me Phoebe: Gluten-Free Chicken Chile Verde
The Cultural Dish: Game Day Turkey Chili
The Mom 100: Barbacoa Beef Chili
Napa Farmhouse 1885: Three Bean and Veggie Chili
Red or Green: Chili Dogs
Swing Eats: Slow-Cooker Chili & Jalapeño Corn Muffins (gluten-free)
Taste with the Eyes: Bison Chili with Heirloom Cranberry Beans, Poached Egg
Creative Culinary: Smoky Beef and Bourbon Chili
FN Dish: Come Sunday, It’s All About Game-Day Chili Bowls

And a little buffalo humor I saw on facebook:

too funny


3 thoughts on “Bison Chili with Heirloom Cranberry Beans, Poached Egg”

  1. Oh what a great idea to use the bison meat for chili and cut back on some of the cholesterol and fat without losing flavor. There’s plenty of other liquid so it wouldn’t taste dry. As much as I love a good, oozy egg, I’d be hard pressed to give up the cheese and sour cream on the top though. Happy game day.

  2. Bison may not be available Down Under and we eat chili far less often than our friends across the Pond, but methinks this marvellous recipe could well be adapted to one of our lean game meats!

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