Bison meat is a popular healthy alternative to beef; fans say it’s sweeter and lighter. But what to drink with this beast of the plains?

“Most buffalo is grass-fed before the animals are finished on grain,” says Gourmet magazine food editor Ian Knauer. “As you might expect, the flavor of the grasses comes through in the meat.

“A great way to spotlight those naturally grassy flavors is to pair them with a particularly grassy beer,” he says.

High in protein and iron, and low in fat and calories, buffalo meat is popping up on menus as burgers, steaks, chili, even lasagna.

For beers, Knauer suggests Green Flash Brewing Co.’s West Coast IPA. “It’s so hoppy that, at first whiff, it reminds me of a freshly cut lawn,” he says. Then chase the beer down with rye whiskey, since rye is also a grass.

The chaser will “only help to heighten the whole cowboy experience,” says Knauer.

Bison chili

Start to finish: 45 minutes

Servings: 6

2 tablespoons canola oil

2 medium yellow onions, diced

2 red bell peppers, cored and diced

6 cloves garlic, minced

1 canned chipotle chili in adobo sauce, diced

2 teaspoons chili powder

2 teaspoons cumin

2 teaspoons cayenne pepper

2 teaspoons smoked paprika

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2 pounds ground bison

28-ounce can chopped tomatoes

Two 14-ounce cans kidney beans

2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

Salt and ground black pepper, to taste

Sour cream, to serve

Lime wedges, to serve

In a large saucepan over medium-high, heat the oil. Add the onions, red bell peppers and garlic. Saute until the onions are soft, about 5 minutes. Add the chipotle, chili powder, cumin, cayenne and smoked paprika. Saute for another minute.

Add the bison, chopped tomatoes and kidney beans. Bring to a simmer, cover, then reduce heat to low. Simmer for 30 minutes. When ready to serve, stir in the cilantro. Season with salt and pepper. Serve with sour cream and lime wedges.

(Recipe from AP Food Editor J.M. Hirsch)

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