Saturday, July 4, 2015

Bison: The other red meat

0 comments
In this image taken on Feb. 27, 2012, bison with sage and gnocchi is shown in Concord, N.H. (AP Photo/Matthew Mead)
In this image taken on Feb. 27, 2012, bison with sage and gnocchi is shown in Concord, N.H. (AP Photo/Matthew Mead) AP
In this image taken on Feb. 27, 2012, bison with sage and gnocchi is shown in Concord, N.H. (AP Photo/Matthew Mead) Gallery: Bison: The other red meat

Nothing says "Yum!" like a bit of nomenclatural confusion... Especially with a side of near extinction.

But that's what you get once you venture down the culinary path with bison, an alternative red meat that is showing up at more and more grocers nationwide. And these massive shaggy creatures are such a delicious — and good for us — meat, it's worth sorting it all out.

So let's start with the name. The critter you know as the American buffalo (yes, of rolling plains and Native American fame) really isn't a buffalo at all. Turns out there are only a few types of buffalo in the world (including the Asian water buffalo and African Cape buffalo). The American buffalo (technically a bison) is more closely related to your run-of-the-mill cow.

More coverage
  • Recipe: Seared Bison with Sage and Gnocchi
  • Still, people tend to use the terms interchangeably and we're not going to get too bent out of shape over it.

    Once, bison were hunted to near extinction. But they've made a pretty good turnaround and these days are raised primarily for consumption. Why do you care? Because bison meat (which is raised without hormones or antibiotics) can be incredibly tender and flavorful, with a sweet, rich beefy flavor.

    It also happens to be amazingly lean, packing fewer calories and less fat than beef and even skinless chicken.

    That low-fat profile comes with a price, however. Like any lean meat, bison has a tendency to cook quickly, so quickly that it's easy to overcook it. And that is why bison has a reputation for being tough. It isn't. If you have bison that is tough, that just means it was overcooked.

    Though bison is available in most of the same cuts as traditional beef, the most common varieties at grocers are ground and steaks. We'll stick with those.

    You can use bison much as you would beef. The trick is to modify the cooking method (rather than the flavors or other ingredients) to account for the leanness.

    When cooking ground bison, it's best to work in some sort of liquid flavor to keep the meat moist. This might mean eggs or tomato paste for a meatloaf, or some sort of pan sauce or gravy if you are browning it in a skillet. That also makes it ideal for meatballs simmered in sauce or for using in chili.

    For bison steaks, think fast and furious. Season them, then pop them under the broiler or on the grill for just a few minutes per side.

    AP Food Editor
    0 comments
    We encourage respectful comments but reserve the right to delete anything that doesn't contribute to an engaging dialogue.
    Help us moderate this thread by flagging comments that violate our guidelines.

    Comment policy:

    Philly.com comments are intended to be civil, friendly conversations. Please treat other participants with respect and in a way that you would want to be treated. You are responsible for what you say. And please, stay on topic. If you see an objectionable post, please report it to us using the "Report Abuse" option.

    Please note that comments are monitored by Philly.com staff. We reserve the right at all times to remove any information or materials that are unlawful, threatening, abusive, libelous, defamatory, obscene, vulgar, pornographic, profane, indecent or otherwise objectionable. Personal attacks, especially on other participants, are not permitted. We reserve the right to permanently block any user who violates these terms and conditions.

    Additionally comments that are long, have multiple paragraph breaks, include code, or include hyperlinks may not be posted.

    Read 0 comments
     
    comments powered by Disqus
    Latest Videos:
    Also on Philly.com
    letter icon Newsletter