The perfect antidote to winter, this hearty, aromatic chili comes from the kitchen at a popular Utah ski resort.
Spicy Buffalo Chili, The Farm at Canyons Resort, Park City, Utah
When a restaurant sits at the base of the largest ski resort in Utah, it’s almost a given that chili will be on the menu. But when executive chef Zeke Wray joined the staff in 2006, he couldn’t resist tinkering with the soulful winter staple served at the Farm at Canyons Resort in Park City (4000 Canyons Resort Dr., 435-615-8080, canyonsresort.com/dining ).
Rather than stick with beef, he opted for leaner buffalo meat from Wyoming, sourced, as are most of his main ingredients, from no farther than 200 miles away. This chili has a mix of both ground and chopped buffalo. “It makes the chili chunkier,” Wray says. “With the ground meat, you get a lot of buffalo taste from the juices. With the chunks, you get more texture. It’s a hearty dish that warms you from the inside out.”
Aromatic with cumin, cinnamon, cayenne, and jalapeños, the chili also can be made with ground pork, beef, or turkey if buffalo isn’t easy to come by in your area. The dish gets a dash of smoky heat from ground chipotle pepper, which can be found in jars in the spice aisle at specialty stores and well-stocked supermarkets. This recipe makes a generous amount of chili—it’s great for a crowd, but also freezes well if you want to store some away for later.
Wray likes to garnish the chili with sour cream, grated local cheese, and cornbread croutons, but it’s just as good with only cheese. It’s a signature on the lunch menu. Wray is more than willing to accommodate dinner patrons, too, who have to get their fix.
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The Farm at Canyons Resort’s Spicy Buffalo Chili
Adapted with permission from the recipe by chef Zeke Wray of the Talisker Restaurant Collection
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 pounds ground buffalo meat
½ pound chopped buffalo meat
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon ground chipotle pepper
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon cayenne
1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 28-ounce can tomato puree
2 jalapeños, seeded and diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 ½ teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 cups beef broth or water
2 15-ounce cans pinto beans, drained
Water as needed
Shaved sharp cheddar, for garnish
1. Warm the vegetable oil in a large pot over medium-high heat, add the ground and chopped buffalo, and cook until browned. Remove the meat from the pot and set aside.
2. In the same pot, over medium heat, mix the chili powder, cumin, chipotle pepper, cinnamon, and cayenne. Stir until the spices are slightly toasted and aromatic. Add the chopped onion and sauté until it’s translucent, about five minutes. Add the garlic and cook for one minute. Next, stir in the tomato puree and cook for another minute. Add the diced jalapeños, diced bell pepper, salt, pepper, beef broth, and buffalo meat. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for one hour, stirring occasionally.
3. Add the beans and cook for 15 minutes more. If the chili seems too thick, add water in stages during the cooking.
4. Ladle the chili into bowls, then garnish with sharp cheddar shaved into wide curls with a cheese plane or potato peeler.
Photography by Scot Zimmerman 
This article was first published in December 2012. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.