While bison consumption pales in comparison to beef's, it’s taking a stand and making its presence known. Whether it’s chefs like Marc Forgione grilling up bison at the Taste of Tribeca event in New York City or home cooks feeding their kids all-natural bison sausages instead of mystery meat hot dogs, bison is increasing in popularity. Why? Because it’s lean, healthy, and has no antibiotics or artificial hormones added to it. In fact, bison can easily be substituted for beef, chicken, or turkey without sacrificing taste — simply cutting back on calories, fat, and cholesterol.
To learn more about cooking with bison and what makes it so healthy, we turned to chef Forrest Waldo who has been with High Plains Bison since the start of the company seven years ago. Check out what he has to say and the delicious bison recipes listed below.
Why do you think Bison is becoming a more popular meat these days?
I think there are two reasons: one, there’s the whole health aspect of why it’s better for you. It's naturally raised, no hormones, no antibiotics. Bison meat is 100 percent natural. High Plains is the only brand who can guarantee that, and two, the growing locavore movement and people wanting to try new things. This makes the consumer take a look at a natural and recognized brand that’s USDA approved. The buffalo are raised locally and naturally.
What are some of the health benefits of bison meat?
Two of our cuts, sirloin and filet mignon, are certified by the American Heart Association as a healthy choice. How often can you eat meat that’s certified as being healthy? It’s healthier because it’s 100 percent natural and there is nothing done to the bison. They are allowed to live on the range and are left alone and not worked like cattle. They have a great life and they are essentially wild animals. That’s why the meat is so lean and so healthy. They are allowed to graze freely and are much happier animals than cattle.
How do you recommend cooking bison meat? Is it similar to beef?
Use it in your favorite recipes for pot roast or with your favorite steak marinade and cook bison the exact same way. But, there is a caveat. Because it’s so lean, it generally requires a third less time and a third less heat than beef. The worst thing you can do is overcook it. It’s best served medium rare with an internal temperature of 110 to 115 degrees. Check out the website for more information on cooking times and temperatures.
What are some flavor combinations that work well with bison?
Bison loves fruit, so if you’re grilling a steak try brushing a raspberry glaze or even a blueberry vinaigrette on the outside, and it really likes that. My general rule of thumb is sea salt, olive oil, black pepper, and granulated garlic. Then sear it on the outside to create a flavor crust, which helps seal in the juices.
You want to let the meat rest after you cook it, just like beef, because you want those juices in your mouth not on the plate. Same with a burger.
What would you say to people who are hesitant about trying bison?
I would tell them to try our bison hot dogs. Here’s why, it’s a low-cost entry, so the risk of buying something you don’t like isn’t as bad. We spent two years working on this hot dog. It’s 100 percent bison, no fillers, no pork, chicken, or turkey. The next step is a bison burger, I’ve never had anyone who’s tried it and hasn’t liked it.