Cowgirl Elk Chili with Roasted Sweet Potatoes

In my dreams, I am a cowgirl. I ride the mountain range, heat food over an open flame and breath in the fresh air….

If you are not a meat eater then you might want to tune me out for a minute. You could also sub out the elk with any ground meat or poultry of your choice. If you are vegan then you could go with tofu crumbles, beans or a meatless substitute. You would still benefit greatly with all the other ingredients in this chili. I mean really, sweet potatoes and spices all done up cowgirl or cowboy style. Bring it.

Marla Meridith at Circle K Ranch in Colorado

The heat driven blackouts in Southern California are not reflective of crispy fall days right now but in other parts of the country, there is a hint of fall in the air. That hint makes me very, very happy.

I eat my chili over a big green salad. I love a bit of cool crisp with my warming foods.

Cowgirl Elk Chili with Roasted Sweet Potatoes | recipe on
Every time we travel to Telluride I prepare two things within the first few days of arrival. A giant pot of homemade applesauce and an even bigger pot of chili. Sometimes I use bison, other times lean ground beef. Turkey or chicken can find their way in the pot too. Just depends on what I find at the market and what I am in the mood for.

For this batch, I scored ground elk at the local farmers market. Each and every Friday throughout the summer there is an amazing farmers market with the freshest produce, artisan creations, flowers, meats, cheeses, chocolate, pastry, breads….you name it, it’s there. All on one small block. Spectacular if you ask me.

Cowgirl Elk Chili with Roasted Sweet Potatoes | recipe on

Have you ever had elk meat? It is lean and full of flavor. I would say it is a cross between bison and ground beef. I got mine from the awesome High Wire Ranch.

I added ground cinnamon to this recipe. It ponies up nicely to the cumin and chili powder.

James Ranch, Durango ~ Colorado Cheddar Cheese |

One of my other favorite vendors at the market is James Ranch. The 400 acre ranch is located 10 miles outside of Durango, CO. Here’s what they say “….irrigated pastures, crystal clear flowing water, 100% grass fed and finished beef cattle, grazing Jersey milk cows, a spruce tree nursery, an organic vegetable and flower garden, and busy families who utilize organic growing practices in the day-to-day operation of the ranch and their enterprises.” Idealic huh!

It is my plan to visit there someday, the ranch is about 2 hours from where we stay, perhaps next summer. I was too busy hiking & mushroom hunting this visit.

Cowgirl Elk Chili with Roasted Sweet Potatoes | recipe on

We enjoyed plenty of their artisan, raw milk sharp cheddar cheeseBlissful. I had the opportunity to meet the owners Kay and Dave James at Mountain Film this past May. A lovely couple if you ask me. They take great pride in their family, food and sustainable farming practices.

Cowgirl Elk Chili with Roasted Sweet Potatoes | recipe on
This recipe is featured on the Chef Marcus Samuelsson blog too…..


What is your favorite chili recipe?


Click HERE for Recipe Details.


Relevant Recipe Links

Lots of links for you today. I tweeted for you guys to send me your favorites and boy did you send me great recipes!

Tidy Mom

This post has been included in TidyMom’s I’m Lovin it Fridays

~ Marla Meridith

Join the Conversation

69 thoughts on “Cowgirl Elk Chili with Roasted Sweet Potatoes

  1. I would love to live in the mountains somewhere in cowboy country…

    Congrats on being featured on Chef Marcus Samuelsson’s site!

    That chili looks amazing! Wow, elk meat, how intriguing.



    1. Thanks Rosa! I know you and I are mountain gals. Now we just need to get together & cook for one another. Colorado or Switzerland? …your choice. OK how about both!

    1. Laura, your chili verde looks awesome. Thanks for sharing the link. I have never tried one like this (always the red) but need to pronto! Not only do I love a steamy bowl of chili on the cooler days for all the reasons you mention, but I love the fact you can make a big batch & freeze it for lazy winter nights. More cuddle time 😉

  2. I am a meat lover and have eaten a lots of different kinda meat. I ate dear too but not sure if that was elk or something else. This dish is looking so yum and spicy, just the kind I enjoy 🙂

  3. The pictures are stunning, as usual.

    This time, not JUST of the food. Because YOU look awesome! You look like a natural next to that horse.

    And the cowgirl that’s printed on that dishtowel or napkin…oh, that is too cute 🙂

    Just got power on over here & blogged. WHAT a harrowing 24 hours it’s been. Coffee with you is going to taste so good next week 🙂

    1. Katie, isn’t chili the perfect staple! Love that you can make a huge batch & freeze some for lazy days. I need to get me some of that awesome Texan chili 🙂

    1. Hi Cakelaw, any of those meats you mentioned would be perfect. What I love about chili is how versatile we can make the ingredients. That dash of cinnamon adds a little something special to this recipe.

  4. You’ve got me in such the mood for chili right now girl! I love your photo of you and the horse. I LOVE it. I kinda want to be a cowgirl sometimes too, though I have no idea how to be 🙂

    And since you mentioned it…chili over salad sounds absolutely delicious!!!

    Thanks so much for including me in your link love!

  5. Hi Marla!
    I love elk… and venison and bison and…. to be blunt – “game is good”!! This chili sounds wonderful and a great way to showcase game! Wish it were easier to get in our neck of the woods though!!

  6. It’s all about the boots really – but where’s your hat?! You have the horse, the chili and the back drop – you so so so need a ten gallon hat!

  7. my brother shot an elk a few years ago, and he’s still working on that meat–it was huge! there have been more chilis than anything else, i’m sure. 🙂

  8. Looks fantastic! Love the picture of you with the horse, cute jeans too. I also love the cowgirl tea towel, adorable.

  9. Looks great Marla,we eat lots of Elk Chili over here and Elk everything else for that matter. I have a freezer full of Elk 🙂 Just make Elk Stew yesterday. Will have to give your recipe a try…with one of the umpteen pounds of elk we have. Last one my husband got was 700 lbs. yea….that’s a lot of Elk 🙂

    1. Wow Diane! Had no idea your hubs was a hunter. Very cool. To think you have a freezer full of Elk is awesome. Could you imagine how much you would pay for that at the butcher??!! Let me know if you try the chili. That dash of cinnamon & sweet potatoes adds so much fun flavor.

  10. YUM!! LOVE ELK! LOVE CHILI! And my daughter and I were just talking today about how we secretly think we’d love to live on a ranch!

    I made chili last week with a can of pumpkin in it….it was pretty good!