Creating The Perfect Chili
Winter is the season for comfort foods, home cooking, and nostalgia, and what better way to celebrate than by whipping up a pot of chili? This winter, Dan Buron, Executive Director of Goodwill Northern Michigan, demonstrated his culinary skills and won best “red” chili out of 8 and second best overall in a friend’s chili contest using Cherry Republic Cherry Salsa.
Though Dan doesn’t consider himself a chef, he wowed the crowd with his chili recipe. The secret ingredient? Cherry Republic Salsa! The cherries added a sweet and tart flavor and a subtle crunch to the chili, elevating it to the next level.
“The Cherry Republic Salsa worked perfectly,” Dan shares. “I wanted to change up my recipe that I have used for years and thought I should use some cherries. I looked up different options for the way tart cherries were added in, but none of them were right.
“Then I remembered how much we like Cherry Republic Salsa and tried using it to replace regular salsa. It worked perfectly. I was worried that the cherry may overpower the chili, but it actually provided some complexity I wasn’t expecting. Rather than overtake the flavor, it complemented it.
“At first bite you taste a sweet tanginess that is quickly followed up by the spiciness of the recipe,” he adds. “It was fun and well received.”
Dan’s creative approach shows that you can use unexpected ingredients to make something delicious, and even those who don’t consider themselves great cooks can still impress and make a tasty dish.
Tackling Food Insecurity in Northern Michigan
At Goodwill Northern Michigan, Dan focuses on building innovative community partnerships to tackle complex challenges like homelessness and food insecurity. In 2019, Dan participated in the Ironman 70.3 Traverse City Triathlon to support GoodwillNMI’s Food Rescue program that focuses on getting nutritious food to food pantries and community meal sites.
Dan’s efforts to raise awareness about food insecurity and his culinary creativity demonstrate how one person can positively impact their community. To learn more about Dan, Goodwillnmi.org or the Food Rescue program, visit goodwillnmi.org.
Bacon-Bison-Beer Cherry Chili
- 3 slices thick-cut bacon, finely chopped
- 1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
- 1 large garlic clove, minced
- 1 ½ lbs lean ground bison
- 1 tbsp chili powder
- 1 ½ tsp ground cumin
- 1 ½ tsp sweet smoked paprika
- ½ tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 14.5 oz can crushed fire-roasted tomatoes or regular crushed tomatoes
- 1 8 oz jar Cherry Republic Original or Hot Cherry Salsa
- 1 cup flavorful medium-bodied beer (Dan prefers IPA)
- 1 14.5 oz can mixed beans or black beans, drained
- In a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat, cook bacon, stirring until it just begins to brown, about 4 minutes.
- Add bison, breaking up and string until slightly cooked through, about 5-6 minutes.
- Sprinkle chili powder, cumin, paprika, cayenne and salt, stir to combine.
- Push bison to the perimeter of pan making a clear spot in the center.
- Add the onion and garlic to the center and stir cooking until translucent, about 4-5 minutes.
- Add tomatoes, salsa, and beer and bring to a boil.
- Reduce heat to medium-low, cover partially, and cook 30 minutes.
- Add beans and cook 10 minutes, uncovered. Season to taste with salt. Serve warm, with toppings on the side.