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EATS: Montrail Bison Chili and Jerky

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Something’s stewing in St. Ignatius, near the Flathead Valley in western Montana.

The folks at Montrail Bison are packing bison and kidney beans with loads of other goods into what they call Chunky Buffalo Chili. Perhaps the best feature of the chili is that it doesn’t take website sleuthing to understand the ingredients in the soup.

Steve Killorn and family have been in the bison business for more than 30 years. The 60-year-old Livingston native recently moved the operation from eastern Montana to the Flathead Valley for what he calls “conveniences”, and what others call paved roads and running water.

Rest assured there’s a spoonful of meat, beans and tomatoes in each chunky bite.

The group is also packaging up jerky that makes the slabs sitting on display in gas stations throughout Montana look like chump food.

The natural bison meat is flavored with soy sauce, garlic, lemon juice, brown sugar and liquid smoke to create the most tender jerky you’ll find. Your jaw won’t endure a workout eating a package of this stuff, and the only thing you’re chewing on an hour after munching is the jerky’s powerful flavor.

Killorn says the tenderness comes from “our process, our recipe, ya know.”

The meat is sweet but not overly so, and it’s not so salty that it cuts up the roof of your mouth eating it. Killorn bought the original tangy recipe from a bison dealer in Hawaii 11 years ago and sat on it for eight years before starting the jerky operation three years ago.

“We just use buffalo as they come off the pasture, they’re in good shape and happy so, you know, I’m just glad we have that recipe,” Killorn said.

Pick up a package of this Montana-made meat (or pepperoni sticks) at the Hungry Moose, Cabelas outdoor stores, all Town Pumps, across North Dakota and eastern Montana, or go online at montrailbison.com.

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