Ben and Emily are over for dinner and a sleepover tonight. When I picked them up from school, I asked what they wanted to make for dinner. Emily asked for corn dogs and deep-fried marshmallows; Ben asked for gaspetti and meatballs and bananas. Guess who won.
Luckily I bought ground bison yesterday. I am so glad that Sobey’s is carrying it fresh, right beside the ground beef! Bison has more protein than beef, and half the fat. In fact, bison has less fat than skinless turkey or chicken, and (with the exception of a few fattier cuts) even less fat than halibut.
The problem is, because it’s so lean bison dries out if you cook it for as long as you cook beef. Because it looks and tastes like beef, it’s hard not to treat it the same way in the kitchen. As a general rule, you need about 1/3 less time when cooking steaks, roasts and burgers. Using ground bison in chili, spaghetti sauce, meatballs and the like is easy though. Tonight I added an egg and a handful of quick oats to the bison (about a pound and a half), squished it up with my hands and we rolled it into balls and put them all out on a cookie sheet. While the pasta boiled I baked the meatballs in the oven – 350 F for 20 minutes or so – then transferred them to a pot of simmering tomato sauce. (I actually ran out of spaghetti, but used these long curly noodles I found at the Italian market that turned out to be hollow inside, like long, thin, uncut macaroni. They were much more worm-like than spaghetti – perfect for five-year-olds.) The kids adored them – Emily said they were the best meatballs she had ever had. She thought it was even cooler when she heard they had been made out of bison.