The flavor is slightly sweeter than beef, but quite similar. There’s absolutely no nutritional downside. And it’s low in cholesterol, sodium, total and saturated fat, and high in protein and minerals.
You may have already guessed. I’m talking about Bison, “the other red meat.”
A large coterie of former beef eaters are now grinning eye-to-eye after indulging in a luscious meal of Bison, aka Buffalo. Popular entrees include everything from sirloin tip roast to buffalo Andouille sausage, buffalo chili, even a perfect Bolognese. No doubt, Bison is a rapidly growing favorite of health-conscious meat-loving consumers.
Bison is a few dollars more per pound, but health benefits outweigh extra dollars spent. Even the American Heart Association has included lean cuts of bison as a part of their heart-healthy addendum. They boast that it is nutrient dense, contains high protein and minerals, is gluten-free, high in Omega 3 fatty acids, and an excellent source of iron and Vitamin E.
Focused on weight loss? You couldn’t choose a better meat without sacrificing taste. Bison is lower in calories, fat, and cholesterol than fish or chicken, and higher in protein than beef.
Though still a rarity at most Tampa Bay area restaurants, the meat is readily available at most supermarkets, even venues like Costco and Sam’s Club. If you are looking for a special cuts check your local butcher. Chances are he’ll have a variety.
Once you’ve purchased the lean meat, the most important question is “how to cook it?” Most chefs and cooks I’ve talked with agree that you should cook it the same as beef, yet at a lower temperature. In other words, “low and slow.” Cooking over a lower temperature helps maintain its moist and tender texture.
And though Bison requires about one-third less cooking time than beef no need to hasten the process: slow is better. When overcooked, or cooked at too high a temperature, the meat becomes tough and dry. (In other words, If you like your meat well done, this is not the meat for you.)
Once cooked, let it rest for about ten minutes before cutting into it. Cutting into it too soon will allow the juices to escape. Your patience will pay off.
I’ve surveyed a number of my cookbook writer and foodie friends about their experiences eating Bison. The majority prove to be huge Bison fans. Chef Kim Miller-Boivin, former executive chef at Bern’s Steak House in Tampa and now at Yum International says, “I loved it as a steak (at Bern’s) with a rich cherry sauce.” but confesses to enjoying it as a burger at places like Fuddruckers’s and Burger 21. On the other hand, Accent Magazine publisher “Missy” Martino of Accent Magazine finds the flavor too strong and the meat too dry. She adds, “I had it at a very good restaurant, so I think it’s just my taste buds— they’re used to beef.” Kenny Hunsberger, executive chef at St.Pete Beach’s elegant Don CeSar loves the taste and serves it up often as a “special.”
In my opinion, a seque into beef consumption is a snap call. Once discovered, I guarantee, the temptation to devour those fat-laden hunks of beef will rapidly decrease.
And there’s no need to fear the supply will diminish. Though Bison numbers decreased almost to the point of extinction in the late 1800s, they are no longer endangered. Bison are raised in many venues from Canada to Mexico, even here on a number of our Florida ranches.
Besides benefitting your waistline, Bison also benefit the planet. As they move constantly, which they do, they create locations for seeds of new prairie plants to germinate, resulting in grassland that hosts a variety of wildlife. Since Bison can’t be fence in like cattle, their stress-free lifestyle results in a most delectable product. Wild grasses, sagebrush, and other native vegetation, water and the camaraderie of other bison (they are raised in groups of 50-1000) are they only thing they need to produce their nutrient-dense meat, hence, more good eating for us!
Image: The Bison CouncilKeywords: BURGER, BISON