Cry of the Buffalo: Slow-Cooker Chili

Once, a long time ago, a boy and a girl were just married. They recently moved to Atlanta, Georgia from Austin, Texas and Madrid, Spain. The boy worked at the Centers for Disease Control. Just a normal job; he was usually home early, by about 17:30. When the girl didn’t cook her food (too “fancy” at times for his manly taste), he made big pots of savory, spicy chili. Then, the boy went to medical school – next, surgical residency. The boy was now a doctor. He got home from work very late. Sadly, there was no time for him to prepare delicious chili. So, the girl learned to cook his beloved dish – masculine and hearty. Once again, all was right in the world.

A healthful, cool and flavorful accompaniment to a bowl of warm chili is a light and refreshing salad of spicy arugula, parsley, mushroom, Bosc pear, bing cherries, brown Turkish figs, chèvre, pistachios and balsamic vinaigrette. A bit of femininity  and finesse inimitably juxtaposes the hearty, beefy, boot-stomping chili.


Yesterday evening – in need of a bit of exercise, as well as chili toppings and salad ingredients – I took a relaxing walk in the cool, night air to the local Co-op. I happily carried home a bag filled with raw-milk Milk; sweet, local pears; fragrant, organic cilantro; superlative, soft Turkish brown figs with their juicy, sweet pulp.


A generous grate of aged Manchego cheese takes this dish from ordinary to extraordinary – from food for mortals to that fit for gods. I first discovered the nutty, sharp queso in España, where it is termed queso oveja curado. It is my gateway cheese. At first bite, I egress from the land of boring, bland orange blocks of milk curd: the doors open to a life-long journey in true fromage. I hope that you try a bit of queso oveja curado on your chili – and take an adventure in cheese.


Of course, when one eats chili, a bit of carbohydrate is required. Maybe a savory muffin slathered in butter or slice of hearty cornbread? Or a handmade ciabatta roll, warmed on the grill with generous dashes of extra virgin olive oil. Ciabatta is of my favorite breads – soft and pillowy inside and flawlessly crisp outside. Bubbles of air burst inside the loaf while it bakes – pure magic. Abba is enamored by the this delicate, buttery white bread. It’s a change of pace from whole-grain, artisan loaves of this-or-that Ima often buys. “Whole-grain, schmole-grain,” says Abba.


One locally owned spot about a mile down the road makes fantastic ciabatta (and focaccia). For each loaf you purchase, the owner stamps a bread card. After eleven stamps, the twelfth loaf is free. Plus, pastry samples are standard for all customers – particularly hungry kids, recently picked up from school. Who can argue with that?

Are you hungry yet? I am! Let’s get this slow-cooker chili started!


Snu Magoo is pretty excited to make some chili – and nibble on the fresh corn!


The cooked buffalo is reminiscent of chocolate, so Littlest Guy happily nibbles away. The finished dish may be a bit short on meat.


No one gets between Littlest Guy and “buffalo chocolate.”


We have everything prepared to make chili!

(Not pictured: cannellini beans, fresh chiles, tomato sauce).


First, place the vegetables in the slow-cooker. Oh, salubrious and colorful produce!


Then, add the spices, beans and tomatoes.


Pour the beer in. Take a sip of brew if the time of day is appropriate for jubilation.


Add the tomato sauce.


Just as the final ingredients of chili come together, Abba comes in from the garden with the last chile peppers of the season.


 It’s as if the chiles were grown for batch of chili alone! Add the chopped chiles to swim amongst the hearty beans, nutritious vegetables and succulent buffalo.


Season the chili with salt and pepper and give it a final stir.

Cover and turn on the slow-cooker.

Allow the fabulous flavors to enhance and marry all day!


Linger over a long-simmering, warm bowl of chili…

With a sprinkle of queso oveja curado, of course.

Update: According to Abba, this chili is even better for lunch the next day.


Click Here to Print Recipe

Slow-Cooker Buffalo Chili


1 pound lean ground buffalo, browned and broken into small pieces in a pan and drained of excess fat

1 cup of sweet baby carrots, diced small

1 large yellow or orange bell pepper, diced small

1 large spanish or sweet yellow onion, diced small

the corn of 2 ears fresh ears, about 1 1/2 cups

8 cloves of garlic, minced

4 small chiles, seeded with septum and membranes removed, minced

2 cans low-sodium black beans, rinsed well and drained (in a colander)

2 cans low-sodium pinto, kidney or cannellini beans; also rinsed well and drained

8 Tbsp. homemade chili powder (recipe below) or a high-quality spice blend, such as World Spice’s Chili Powder

1, 12-ounce can of gluten-free beer that actually tastes great – or good microbrew (I used Odell IPA from Fort Collins, CO)

1, 24-ounce can organic, diced tomatoes

1/2 cup organic chipotle salsa

2 cups homemade or best quality marinara sauce

salt and pepper, to taste (this depends on the salt content of your canned products)

Optional toppings:

chopped, fresh cilantro or parsley

Greek yogurt or Crème fraîche

shredded, aged Manchego cheese

chopped avocado


  • Combine all ingredients in a slow-cooker.
  • Stir well and cover.
  • Cook on low for 10 hours (all day) or on high for 6 hours.
  • Stir well.
  • Taste and re-season with additional salt and pepper, if necessary.
  • Serve hot with your toppings of choice!


Click Here to Print Recipe

Homemade Chili Powder II


3 Tbsp. ground, smoked paprika

2 Tbsp. each: ground cumin and coriander

1 Tbsp. each: dried thyme, and parsley or Mexican oregano

1 Tbsp. each: dried, granulated garlic and onion

1 tsp. red chile/pepper flakes


  • Mix all spices well in a small bowl.
  • Enjoy in chili or use as a rub for grilled meats and fish.


©Shanna Koenigsdorf Ward, (2013), unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without expressed and written permission from this blog’s author, Shanna Koenigsdorf Ward, and/or owner is strictly and completely prohibited.


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29 thoughts on “Cry of the Buffalo: Slow-Cooker Chili

    1. Thank you, Massi. Yes, I met my husband about 13 years ago at the age of 18 – and knew that he was a catch! 🙂

      Your positive words about the food means a lot coming from someone with such meticulous recipes and professional photos. Your blog is outstanding.

      I appreciate your visit to Curls and Carrots and your very kind words!

  1. This chili sounds delicious and I love the colors that the different ingredients add to it. Ciabatta is one of my favorite breads as well! Perfect to go with this hearty chili 🙂 I usually use ground turkey in my chili, but ground buffalo is an excellent idea! Don’t think I’ve seen any at the stores I go to though =\

    1. Ada! Hello! I love hearing from my buddy over at 🙂 Your turkey chili recipe:

      looks quite tasty and healthful! I love a salubrious chili after a long day! You could definitely substitute bison (buffalo). Bison and buffalo are the same – maybe you can find it under the other name. Whole Foods always has it. 🙂

      Elk, buffalo (also also called BISON) and most lean, game meats are low in fat (as much as turkey and chicken) and very high in iron. Very lean bison/buffalo is fabulously nutritious and so flavorful. Bison is completely grass fed, unlike many cow products that are fed lots of grain – and get really fat! Buffalo might be perfect for your recovery post-gym in the evenings. Our red blood cells need iron after rigorous work-outs! I hope that you give it a try.

      I had a bit of an issue with anemia recently – I would say that I am mostly Pescetarian, other than special occasions (I do adore lamb). I have been making a big effort to eat humanely-raised, lean red meats more often – hence the chili! I am feeling a lot better.

      Thank you so much for your sweet words and for taking the time to read the post. I love hearing from you and reading your great recipes at! 🙂

      1. Thanks for the info, Shanna! I normally don’t shop at Whole Foods, but will make a trip there for the ground buffalo! I definitely want to try to eat healthier, so this will be a big step towards my goal 🙂

        I have heard many good things about bison! I remember dining at a restaurant that specialized in game meats. I ordered a Wild Game Trio, which consisted of elk tenderloin, buffalo, and wild boar…the buffalo was sooo delicious! I was surprised by how tender it was considering it is a lean meat!

        Sorry to hear about your issue with anemia 😦 I’m glad to hear that you are feeling better these days!

      2. Hi, Ada! I am glad that you have heard some good things about bison/buffalo and game meat. Game meats are so tender and lean. I like to cook the steaks medium-rare, since the meat has liittle fat. Your dinner out with the Wild Game Trio sounds fabulous! Super YUM. I actually have a little post about elk here on the blog (I love it!)

        Whole Foods can be a danger zone price-wise, but there are certain things that are only available there – or priced better than other stores that have less volume in specialty items. I have found bison/buffalo steaks and ground meat there for around $10/pound in the meat section. I like to request the meat in one-pound packages and freeze them for later use. That way I have game meat if I only plan on going to a regular grocery store.

        I am always trying to be healthier too – but also enjoy a little indulgence. It sounds like you are very balanced in your approach.

        Have a great day! Thanks for stopping by and for your kind note.

      3. I remember your post with elk! Yum 🙂 Btw, I plan on making pesto sauce tonight with pasta, so I will be following your recipe on that same post 😀

        Yes, Whole Foods is such a nice store but I don’t shop there due to the prices. But I will keep in mind to go there whenever I need specialty items!

        I usually try to eat healthy during the week, and let myself indulge during the weekend. Hopefully it is balanced enough!

      4. Hi, Ada. Let me know how your pesto turns out. I, too, love pasta or pizza on a Friday… something special to end the week! Oddly, expensive Whole Foods has a pie special on Friday – all the toppings and fancy cheeses you want for $15. At least in Albuquerque! I hope that you enjoy your weekend of indulgence… We only live once! Have a great weekend!

  2. “A generous grate of aged Manchego cheese takes this dish from ordinary to extraordinary – from food for mortals to that fit for gods. I first discovered the nutty, sharp queso in España, where it is termed queso oveja curado. It is my gateway cheese. At first bite, I egress from the land of boring, bland orange blocks of milk curd: the doors open to a life-long journey in true fromage. I hope that you try a bit of queso oveja curado on your chili – and take an adventure in cheese.” LOVE<, LOVE,LOVE this paragraph.

    Nicely written. Makes me want to eat a big bowl of chili with a bit of green salad.

    Thank you, Shanna!

    1. Chef Janet, thank you so much for taking the time to read the blog post – and, of course, for your positive and kind comments. You are always so supportive, encouraging – and wise. Your feedback always helps me to advance as a writer and cook- and to keep my “blogging” spirits up.

      Your blog post today was exquisite – the enticing recipe, the gorgeous photos, the eloquent prose ( Any writing compliment from you in interpreted as tenfold in my book!

      I do wish that I could drop-off some chili and salad for you. Abba goes out of town soon for work, and there is always too much food in our house. I do love to cook. We need a pony express to share our dishes with our blogging friends!


      1. Wouldn’t that be fun, Shanna? Instead of a “Candy-Gram” it would be a “Blogging-Gram”. What fun.

        You are a great writer, Shanna. Your words keep me going, take a few risks. Thank you for your continuous kind words and support. It’s good we have such a great blogging world. How’d we ever live without it?

      2. Chef Janet – yes, I agree! It would be fun! We need a blogging-gram, a pony express so to speak. Oddly, I was listening to “Slow Pony Home” by The Weepies just as your message came in. A sign to share, I am certain.

        How did I ever live before blogging and the amazing knowledge and connections that have stemmed from it? The world will never know! 😉 This outlet continues to enrich me life, without question.

        YOU are a great writer. I am just finding my sea legs. Take even more risks and reach your full potential as a chef and pen-woman. I will be quite proud and honored to say that I “knew” you way back when! 🙂

  3. Haha aafter reading yout first paragraph where (I’m so happy for you) everything is nice and rosey, it feels like the next one was going to start with: UNTIL… hehe Thank goodness that wasnt the next word.
    You reminded me I haven’t made chili in a long time and I love it! xx

    1. HA – I just read it and see exactly what you mean! No, this is not a halloween post… not might to frighten. Thank you for your comment. I re-worked the paragraph so as not to scare the reader. Let me know what you think. I appreciate your words and your visit. 🙂

      1. 🙂 haha I can’t believe you reworded it. But its great, it doesn’t sound like a zombie is going to walk out of the closet and scare you 😉 Don’t worry, I think your writing is great! xoxo

  4. LOVE your post Shanna! I just love the way you write, so full of sunshine. And the colours with your chill… fabulous! I’ve gotta try me some of this manly chill! 😉

    1. Oh, Lidia :-), Thank you so much for your enthusiastic and encouraging comments. I am elated to hear that you enjoyed the writing and the colorful chili recipe, too. It is indeed manly, but feel free to put some feminine touches on it. One of the many beauties of the slow-cooker: it is no-fail. So tweak as you will and make it your own. On a side-note, I am drooling over all of the pastry recipes on your blog – and LOVE all of the fresh, season fruit you use. Your two daughters are so lucky to enjoy the fruits of – and learn from – mum who is such a fabulous baker!

  5. This is a great chili, Shanna. I love the variety of ingredients that you bring into play, from carrots to corn to a can of beer. How can this not be good? Love, too, that you used your slow cooker. I find that it makes something like chili so much easier and hassle-free. I’m sure with your 2 little ones hanging around, you would especially like not having to babysit a pot of chili, too.
    By the way, I so envy you your raw-milk. It’s illegal to sell it here, in Illinois, and my cheese making suffers, as a result. Pasteurization destroys much of the bacteria that gives cheese their flavor; ultra-pasteurization being a crime against fromage! 🙂

    1. A crime against fromage. HAHA. I love this! 🙂 I could not agree more! How sad that you cannot buy raw-milk cheese in your state. You know, I once had Epoisse that was unpasteurized in Georgia, but it became a “contraband” cheese. Later, I could only get pasteurized. You’re right – not the same at all! Also, when I was pregnant with my kids, I couldn’t eat any raw-milk cheese – a true sacrifice for the youngsters-to-be. 😉 I feel your pain!

      Thank you for all of the compliments on the chili recipe and the use of the slow-cooker! It really is a god-send. The chili tastes like it has been stirred and stewed with tender love-and-care for hours thanks to the Crock Pot. I appreciate you stopping by and leaving kind words – and a story about Fromage! 🙂

  6. Nice story, Shanna, and a great chili recipe. I’m going to try REMCooks recipe for my first ever attempt of chili, but I think I’m going to adapt your idea of serving it with manchego on top!

    1. Thank you for your nice compliments about the entry and recipe. I think that you will enjoy making chili – it’s a fun process and a perfect meal for a brisk day. Another blogger out in Hawaii has a great chili recipe on her site that is adapted from Fine Cooking Magazine, as well:

      Manchego is lovely on chili, as is a aged English Cheddar like Tickler English Cheddar. It is strong, nutty and slightly sweet. I love a cheese that is pungent enough to stand up to the flavorful chili, but also creamy melt a bit from the heat of the stew.

      I can’t wait to read about your chili. It will be fabulous. 🙂 Thanks for stopping by!

  7. I eat extra extra extra mild everything. I notice you cook with chilli most of the time..does that mean Snu and Littlest Guy are great chilli eaters or how do you go about it? This chill sounds delicious although I am not sure I can find Bison anywhere around here..not really sure I have ever tried to find it. You have some really great recipes here. I’ve been over-bookmarking…Have a lovely Sunday!

    1. Hi, Liz. Snu Magoo and Littlest Guy are like me – they like a little heat, but they still want to taste their food. I always seed and remove the membranes – and even roast – my chiles. I enjoy the flavor without all of the heat. Bison (also called buffalo), elk or even lean, ground lamb would be nice in this chili. Sometimes a “break from beloved beef” is nice, even for a day. 😉 Thank you for your kind words and interesting in the blog! Have a great day!

    1. The kids really enjoy it. They love vegetables – and buffalo/bison. It’s not too hot… I take out the seeds and membranes from the chiles. 😉

      Thanks so much for your kind comment and for stopping by Curls and Carrots. Have a nice Sunday! 🙂

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