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Bison Cooking Tips

Posted on: October 5th, 2012

Coloradans love bison; in fact we eat more bison than any other state, making us the top bison consumers in the world!  Why, because we have good taste of course!

Heart Healthy
Bison is one of America’s healthiest meats thanks to low fats, calories and cholesterol, making it perfect for low carb diets and regularly recommended by doctors for heart and high blood pressure patients.  One 3.5 gram serving of bison contains only 108 calories and 1.8 grams of fat, and offers:

Raising Bison
Unlike the older, tougher animals eaten by early Americans, today’s bison is comparable to beef in tenderness.  Bison can live 40 years, but are harvested at about 18 months old. Bison need room and are allowed to free range, eating grass and hay, and
their diet is usually supplemented with limited grain for 90-120 days before harvest.  No hormones, antibiotics or preservatives are ever used with bison, and while a USDA inspection is not required, the bison (and all the meats) we sell at Tony’s is inspected for the highest assurance of safety.

Cooking Tips
In general, simply season and cook bison just as you would beef, taking extra care not to overcook, as lean meats tend to cook more quickly, and can turn out dry or chewy when cooked to medium and beyond. Find Bison recipes on our website, and read on for cooking tips…

Seasoning for Bison
My favorite bison seasonings are our Euro-Crust, Tuscan Grill Rub, Z-Blend, Spring Lamb and Bison Seasoning, Calgary Steak Rub, Cherry Ancho Rub, and our Southwestern Steak Rub. I like to blend the seasoning with olive oil (and sometimes garlic) to make a wet rub, slathering it on 60-90 minutes before cooking and resting at cool room temperature. As for
marinades, I lean towards stronger flavors and particularly like those with red wine and garlic, but if you like a marinade on beef, you’ll like it on bison.  Also consider our Santa Maria Marinade with whisky and garlic!

Ground Bison
Substitute bison for ground beef in any recipe with confidence.  Nice and lean, ground bison cooks quickly, so I like to grill, roast or sauté at a medium temperature (as opposed to medium high for beef), remove from heat and 5-10 minutes before serving. Lean meats do have more of a tendency to stick, so use plenty of oil.

Bison Steaks
There are two schools of thought here – slow and low or hot and fast.  I’ve tried both and think I prefer slow and low, but high temperatures do create a wonderful crust.  Season or marinade for 1-24 hours, cook on an preheated, oiled grill and remove from 115-135° internal, about 10° below what the finished temperature will be (I think 120° is perfect). Cover with parchment or foil and a kitchen towel and rest for 5-10 minutes before slicing.

Bison Roasts
Cook a bison roasts essentially the same as you would the equivalent cut of beef in the oven, on the grill, in the smoker or in a

Stew Meat
I think chunks of bison is even better than beef in stew or chili, call ahead and have us cube some bison chuck roast for
you.  I like small ½ inch cubes for chili and 1-1.5 inch cubes for stew. Cook just as you would your favorite beef stew or chile recipe.


Serving Sauces
Bison is particularly good with red wine reduction sauces, such as bordelaise, sauce au Poivre, wild mushroom and port wine reductions. Bison is also a natural pair with red berries. I like to use More Than Gourmet demi-glace along with red wine or port and plenty of berries like blackberries, raspberries, blueberries and currants, letting them cook down in the sauce. You can make a particularly simple red berry sauce by simmering 1 part of berries (by weight) with 1 part of More Than Gourmet Red Wine Sauce. Here are a couple recipes.

Bison REcipes

Rocky Mountain Burger

Sprinkle patties with your favorite Tony’s seasoning and prepare other ingredients.  Preheat a medium-high grill and brush clean, add a few chips/chunks of local apple or crabapple wood in the coals or in a tin below the grate and over the hottest part of your gas grill.

Mist or brush cooking grate with oil and immediately add patties, grilling over direct heat for about 3 minutes, turn 45° and repeat – wait until the patty is brown and the juices start to rise to the top before turning.

When the patty is 3/4 done (about 145° internal), top with cheese, cover grill and continue to cook to 160° internal.  Move to paper towel-lined plates, tent with foil and rest for five minutes as you warm the green chiles in microwave and toast buns on the grill.

Assemble burger with half of the toppings above and half below the patty for easier eating (lettuce on the bottom bun will keep it from getting soggy).  Also great with fresh, pickled red or grilled onions.

Recipe by Chef Mick (Michaelangelo) Rosacci, www.TonysMarket.com — www.TonyRosacciCatering.com

Tatonka Chili

Blend meats with onion and brown in a heavy saucepan. Using minced bison chuck or stew meat will produce a chunkier, meatier texture.

For the best flavor, use a medley of dried chilies such as pequin, arbol, New Mexican and chipotles – toast in a hot pan until fragrant, remove seeds and grind with a mortar and pestle and season to taste. Chili powder and cayenne can also be used.

Drain off fat. Add garlic, seasonings and tomatoes and bring to a boil, skim, cover and simmer over low flame until meat is tender (1-2 hours), stirring regularly. Taste and adjust seasonings. Temper in masa flour to thicken.

Add drained beans if desired and simmer to heat through. Feel free to adjust seasonings and ingredients to taste. -Chef Mick Rosacci, Tony’s Markets

Buffalo Marsala Stew

In a large, heavy Dutch oven over medium heat, saute garlic, onion, celery, and 1 minced carrot in olive oil until tender. Season flour with salt and pepper and toss with bison chuck stewing meat. Raise heat, refresh pan with oil as needed, add floured cubes, and cook to brown lightly.

When the pan begins to crust, add wine to deglaze, and then add beef base, herbs, tomatoes, potatoes, barley, and water. Bring to a boil, skim, cover and simmer over low heat until tender. Taste and adjust with seasonings, and water to taste. – Chef Michaelangelo (mick) Rosacci, www.TonysMarket.com – www.TonyRosacciCatering.com

Chef’s note: 1) For a varied texture, add more veggies of your choice half way through cooking time. 2) Boost the nutrition with healthy legumes, such as black-eyed peas, lentils, etc. 3) Cubed butternut squash blends with the Marsala to make a naturally sweet stew.

Grilled Bison Steaks or Burgers w/ Berry Sauce

While grill heats, rub steaks with olive oil and season to taste. Grill steaks over medium hot flame to rare or medium rare (approx 9-15 minutes.)

Meanwhile, simmer More Than Gourmet Red Wine Foundation Sauce and berries and cook to break down berries and marry. Taste and adjust with Primo or Tony’s Organic Blueberry Preserves.*

Remove from heat and swirl in butter, if using, and serve immediately over grilled steaks or burgers.

Notes: For an extra flavor kick, add 1-3 TBS (to taste) of Primo Spicy Blueberry or Blackberry Jam or Tony’s Organic Blueberry preserves – Chef Mick Rosacci, Tony’s Markets

Chipotle Encrusted Bison with Port Wine Sauce

Remove steak or roast from package – pat dry with paper towels.

Blend minced garlic with olive oil and rub heavily on bison steak or roast (increase amounts as needed). Sprinkle generously with Costillas con Chipotle seasoning, or optional seasoning blend – rest at cool room temperature for 2 hours, if time allows.

Grill steaks over direct medium high coals, searing about 3-4 minutes per side, transfer to indirect heat to finish – remove at 115-130 degrees internal.

Rest covered on a plate – steaks about 5-10 minutes, roasts about 15 minutes. Slice thinly and transfer to serving plates. Drizzle with Wine Reduction sauce and serve garnished with berries. Wine pairing: choose a fruity California Red Zinfandel or an off dry Riesling. – Chef Mick (Michaelangelo) Rosacci, www.TonysMarket.com — www.TonyRosacciCatering.com

** More Than Gourmet Wine Reduction Sauce is available at Tony’s, simply heat and serve, or simmer with a generous handful of blackberries, crush as they cook and strain before serving. Or try the following tasty reduction…

Port Wine Reduction Sauce

Prepare demi-glace according to package directions. In second pan, sauté shallots in 2 tsp butter until soft. Add Port (or red wine) and simmer to reduce by 1/2 – 3/4. Stir in demi-glace, simmer to heat through, taste and adjust. Melt in remaining butter and serve. Excellent with beef, bison and lamb – can be re-heated.

Variations: The port can be replaced with any fruity wine – or fruit wine such as cherry or dark berry. A generous handful of blackberries or other sweet ripe berries can be melted into the sauce and strained before serving (with this variation, Gorgonzola cheese makes an excellent garnish). Other variations include sautéed onions, fresh herbs, tomato paste, or mushrooms. – Chef Mick (Michaelangelo) Rosacci, www.TonysMarket.com — www.TonyRosacciCatering.com

About the author: Chef Mick (Michaelangelo) Rosacci is the Corporate Chef and co-owner of the four Tony’s Markets in the Denver Metro area, as well as Tony Rosacci’s Fine Catering and the more casual TR’s BBQ Catering. Mick teaches cooking on Dig In Colorado, a local gardening and cooking show on FOX.  He also taught cooking weekly on Denver’s Channel 7 News for 12 years and wrote the food page for the Colorado Community Newspapers for 11 years. 


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