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Talk to me about Bison...

  • h

So last week, I had the most delicious bison bolognese. Imagine my surprise when I learned that bison is low in fat, cholesterol and calories. My husband has a huge family history of heart disease so I am always looking for ways to eat healthier without sacrificing taste. As the warm weather approaches, we will start firing up the grill. Any special considerations I need to take when cooking bison burgers? Also, has anyone ever tried using ground bison in their meatballs? Thanks!

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  1. I've only used ground bison and have used it for burgers and meatballs, and I've made my own recipe of buffalo soup with noodles. It's a little drier than regular ground beef, so you can't overgrill it, but it's very tasty. My husband says he can taste the difference, but I think it subs very well for ground beef and is healthier for the reasons you stated.

    1. Yes, I've made bison meatballs many times, and had them well received. Bison is a little easier to overcook, but I'm lucky that my family are rare and medium rare meat eaters, so no problems there. My only other suggestion is to let steaks and burgers sit after cooking rather than serving them straight off the grill. The juices will redistribute and the meat will be tastier for it. Unfortunately, bison's gotten much more expensive this year as demand has increased while supply is pretty much the same, at least in the KC area. I used to find bison from 5.99/lb. but the cheapest I've seen it lately is $10.99/lb. and that's for ground meat. I'm seriously thinking of buying a deep freeze so we can buy a side at a time.

      2 Replies
      1. re: amyzan

        Wow! Did not realize it was that pricey! Oh well....guess you cannot put a price tag on good health.

        1. re: hto44

          Go to the BisonRidge website for a farm in Wisconsin that specializes in bison meat. I looked at it and if I correctly remember, the price of the meat includes shipping. There are other websites using the name BisonRidge, but they are in other states.

      2. For years I've substituted bison for recipes I formerlly cooked with beef such as meatloaf, Asian stir-fries, Indian koftas, burgers, etc. We like the flavor better than beef and love that it's low in fat, cholesterol and calories...

        1. A friend of a friend has a bison hobby farm and we have grilled filets and other cuts. I really liked it. My husband didn't think it was anything to write home about. I agree that it is drier than beef.

          1. Bison is terrific but varies in quality just like beef. We buy locally from Lindner Bison and LA and it is really superior. It is quite low in fat so the same rules apply. Don't cook to medium, cook more gently, not so hot sear. My husband sears on the stove then pops in the oven to finish a steak.

            1. Ground bison is great and can be used any way you would use ground beef. As a grilled steak, it has to be seared quickly, and can't go past medium. Even medium is too much for some cuts. I'm not much of a fan of bison steaks...I find it much less flavorful than beef. A grass-fed beef steak is just as healthful as bison (more so if the bison was grain finished) and much tastier. I did a comparison grill last year of a bison hanger steak and a grass fed beef hanger, side by side...the beef was much tastier.

              1. Bison is tender without being fatty because it has a very short meat fiber. Many years ago, the NY Times described bison steak as tasting the way one has always hoped that your expensive beefsteak would taste. Therefore, the key to cooking it is to oil it well, then cook it until you think it must be underdone, because it will become well-done seconds later.

                5 Replies
                1. re: pitterpatter

                  Boy, do I disagree with the NY Times, then. It's awfully lean and devoid of good mineral flavor, IME.
                  I hated it, even tender and perfectly seared outside, pink inside.

                  1. re: mcf

                    MCF, do you mind if I ask what cut you had, and whether or not it was finished with grain? I've not yet had a bison steak I could remotely describe as devoid of good mineral flavor, and I've had both grass fed and grain finished bison. They're different, but both have been consistently flavorful. You do enjoy beef, no? To me, bison is similar to beef, only sweeter and even more mineral in flavor.

                    1. re: amyzan

                      The last steak I had was my favorite beef cut; bison ribeye, from D'Artagnan. I've had plenty of bison burgers, too, from a variety of producers, I've had bison I know was grass fed locally. D'Artagnan says theirs is range fed in Canada. I eat grass fed and finished beef almost exclusively. I think bison is too lean to be half as flavorful as it should. At least in a burger I can pile tasty stuff on top, but I shouldn't have to with ribeye, IMO. I don't usually like beef tenderloin, either, for example.

                  2. re: pitterpatter

                    I've grilled a bison rib-eye a couple of times and it was out of this world! Terrific flavor. Always no more than medium-rare, of course.

                  3. I love bison (we also call them buffalo frequently in the NW). I know quite a few folks that raise them on grass - I buy from to fill my freezer. You might look for sausages and "buff dogs"! Those are especially terrific because they give you a healthy version of traditionally unhealthy products.
                    A family favorite for us to to make "wine burgers" with buffalo- add some cab and season salt with rosemary before grilling. I think that adds some needed moisture. I also add a dab of butter to all bison steaks. I have not been too happy with bison roasts, they are too dry for my taste. I stick with smaller cuts.

                    1. Another advantage to bison is its protein content. Ounce for ounce it have twice as much protein as beef.

                      3oz of ground bison will have ~40 grams of protein while 3oz of ground beef will have ~21 grams.

                      Trader Joe's (in some areas) will carry frozen buffalo burgers which, while not bison, is also lower in fat and higher in protein like bison.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: eperdu

                        You're comparing lean bison to very high fat beef. Edit: I just ran raw ground bison and raw ground beef, 95% lean, through the USDA nutrient database. The extra lean beef has about 3 gms more protein than the ground bison, per 100 grams. 85% lean raw ground beef is equal to ground bison in protein content.

                        1. re: eperdu

                          The T.J buffalo burgers are likely bison. Water or Cape buffalo are not usually found around here for meat. When people say "buffalo" they usually mean "American Buffalo" (bison) and its a term used alot out west :)

                          1. re: sedimental

                            TJ's burgers are bison, but they are grain fed..

                        2. Ground bison or grass-fed beef does not have to be dry. Mix in at least 1/4 cup of olive oil per pound of meat, and let it rest a hour or two before making the patties, or meatloaf, or what ever. Grill the bison a bit slower (lower heat) and DO NOT overcook it.
                          This results in nice juicy burgers and healthier meat than the fat stuff that you usually get with grocer bought ground beef.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: condie

                            grass fed beef dry? not in my experience. bison, yes.

                            1. re: mcf

                              I guess such terms as 'dry' are a matter of definition or custom. Without a bit of added oil, to me, it is dry.

                              1. re: condie

                                I don't like lean meats, generally, but I've never experienced a dry piece of grass fed yet. Even flank and sirloin. So far. I'm surprised by how buttery the flank sometimes tastes, in fact. But bison ribeye was as blah as beef filet, not my thing.

                          2. I was at WF's today and picked up a couple of packages of frozen bison burgers. They come in a 4 pack (4oz/each) for $7.99. In the meat case, they had fresh ground buffalo for $7.99/lb. Not sure what the difference is between buffalo and bison.

                            2 Replies
                            1. Eating low fat and low cholesterol may have the opposite effect on your husband's heart health than what your doctor may have led you to believe.

                              Other doctors have been up to date on this for years, I don't know why it is taking so long for the word to go around.

                              Bison is awesome. So is grass fed/grass finished beef. It is more about what the animal is fed, when it comes to heart health, too. It makes the fatty acid profile more similar to salmon. Grain-fed beef, while admittedly lusciously marbled, is high in the omega 6 fats that we are already eating in an imbalanced, heart-damaging ratios.

                              For heart health, and endocrine health, and many other health benefits, look at Michael Aziz's book, "The Perfect 10 Diet." He's not the only one with a book on this topic, just the one that came to mind first. You'll also find "Nourishing Traditions" a fascinating look into a lot of research snippets debunking the modern low-fat madness. It is by Sally Fallon, and by Dr. Mary Enig (a scientist in the area of fats).

                              Grass fed Bison recipes....