I haven’t been ‘home’ in a good long while. I’m thinking of the place I grew up, a mixed farm in central Saskatchewan. Right now I can feel (and smell) the nip in the air and watch the leaves that are falling almost as if I were there. Tomatoes have been harvested (while still green) in anticipation of first frost and now lay in boxes beneath my mom’s bed. They ripen while she sleeps. Root veggies are the last to be harvested. I talked to my brother the other day and he was excited to tell me that he and his wife harvested their first crop of potatoes and the potato bin is filled and overflowing. The farmers are working night and day, except during the hours of dew fall, to get their crops off before snow fall. The earth has given up its seasonal abundance and we are thankful.
The last time I was home it was cold enough to transport frozen Bison in a cooler for 10 hours. It was still frozen when I placed it in my freezer, where it stayed until the day I remembered to take it out to thaw. Today I had a craving for chili so I thought a pound of ground bison would be just the base to start with. I didn’t want to just make my usual version and I had some ‘more interesting’ spices that I wanted to use to change it up a bit. When I found sweet potatoes at a really great price at our local Co op store, I knew they would also be part of my ‘chili’. Back at home, I searched for chili recipes including sweet potatoes and got quite a few results. Then I tried to throw harissa and sumac into the search mix and got fewer results. I found a recipe for a North African soup and realized that I could add those flavours to my chili.
I began by sauteing the onions with the spices until they were softened then I added the minced garlic, red peppers, and the ground bison. It took a while for the bison to brown but after that was done I added the tomato paste, peanut butter and chunks of sweet potato. I left it to cook on low for a bit, then added the tin of diced tomatoes, sriracha, and lemon juice. Once the sweet potatoes were softened enough I added the final ingredient, chickpeas. If you would like extra heat, serve with cilantro and more harissa.
Bison ‘Chili’ with Sweet Potato, Harissa and Sumac
1 TBS olive oil
1/2 large onion, diced small
1 1/2 tsp harissa
1 tsp sumac
1 TBS ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tiny bomb peppers; sliced into slivers
1 pound minced bison
1 ½ tbsp tomato paste
2 tbsp peanut butter
1 sweet potato; cut up into cubes
1 tbsp sriracha (garlic/chili paste)
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 (16 oz) can diced tomatoes
1 can chickpeas
Salt and pepper