I know, sounds scary, right? I was a little nervous, too. My approach to any bison cut (beyond ground) is to do them low and slow – in the slow cooker, even – to make sure they don’t dry out. They’re so much leaner than beef, but so flavourful – the low and slow method is pretty foolproof. And you can’t beat a good bison bourguignon.
But. It’s not exactly braising (oven on for three hours) season – it’s barbecue season. And the reality is that an actual bison is 10% premium steaks, 40-45% roast type cuts – the remainder of the meat is trim (ground), which goes toward burgers and sausage, which practically sell themselves. Roasts are the hardest thing for producers to market because most people don’t know how to cook them, or don’t want to spend the time. Who makes pot roasts anymore?
Next to ground, roasts are the most economical cut of bison and also the leanest. Bison has 1/4 the fat of beef or pork – it’s even leaner than skinless chicken or turkey. And it’s wonderful, flavourful meat – every time we have bison (which is more often than beef these days) Mike shakes his head and declares it far better. It isn’t that far off, really – most people wouldn’t know the difference. And yet even though it looks like beef and tastes like beef – the cuts are even named the same way – you can’t treat it exactly like beef in the kitchen. You’ll be fine with ground bison and sausage, but steaks and roasts need about a third less cooking time. And keep in mind the shape, rather than the weight – a long, thin roast the same weight as a round one will cook more quickly.
This beautiful little bundle of roast beast came from Peter and Judy Haase at Buffalo Horn Ranch – wonderful people and advocates of environmentally responsible and sustainable agriculture. Check out their website for more nutritional info, cooking tips and to order their well-raised bison – they make free deliveries in Calgary if you order $100 or more – a great way to stock up for summer.
In other news, if there was a Hoarders – Kitchen Edition I could be a candidate. Remember how I said I was going to start using up the food I already have? The roast came from the freezer, and I gutted one cupboard and consolidated several dozen little bags of beans, grains, nuts, seeds, dried fruit and bits of things – turning all unidentifiable flours into a big bag of pancake mix and taking an inventory of everything else, divvying some of it into jars. It was one of those little jobs I got right into for the first half of (taking everything out and going -aha! I have mung beans/unflavoured gelatin/sundried tomatoes/dried-out marshmallows/too many figs!) and then completely lost interest in when about a third had been neatly reorganized back in the cupboard. I’m now avoiding the kitchen altogether and starting to cook in the dining room, where there’s actually some horizontal space.