Try It Today: Bison

by in Healthy Tips, February 3, 2009

Bison Steak

These days, you might find bison burger, bison steaks and even bison pate served at your favorite restaurants. “Bison?” you might wonder. Don’t be wary. Bison is lean protein that’s worth a try.

Back in the Day
The great American buffalo (species Bison bison) grazed the Great Plains for hundreds of years. Hunted in the 1600s for their fur and later for their bones and meat, the bison was almost extinct by the late 1800s. Today, bison meat, which comes from managed ranches, has been making a comeback as the “new red meat.”

The Nutrition Facts
This meat is such a nutrition powerhouse that it’s no wonder the U.S. demand for it keeps growing. A three-ounce bison rib eye steak contains 150 calories and is very low in cholesterol. With just under five grams of fat and two grams of saturated fat, it has a much lower fat content than any other meat on the market. Bison meat is also an excellent source of zinc, irons and vitamin B-12.

Bison vs. Beef
Bison tends to have a richer and sweeter flavor than beef. When raw, it has a deeper red color because there is no marbling (i.e. the white layers of fat found in beef). Bison comes in identical cuts to beef, which makes shopping for it easier. You will find choices such as flank steak, brisket, ground and tenderloin.

Grass-Fed Bison vs. Grain-Fed Bison
Grass-fed means the bison is let out to graze, rather than given feed mix, which might have added hormones or antibiotics. Grass-fed bison has yellow fat (as opposed to white) because it has more beta-carotene and has slightly lower fat, cholesterol and calories and a higher percentage of omega-3 fats than grain-fed bison meat.

Handling and Preparing
While not widely carried yet, farmers’ markets and some supermarkets or specialty stores sell bison meat. You can also order it online and have it delivered. Use refrigerated bison meat within five days or store it in the freezer. Defrost frozen meat overnight in the refrigerator or run it under cool water.

Since bison meat is very low in fat, it cooks faster than other red meats; this means it can also easily overcook. As a general rule, use a low heat (325°F) and longer cooking times. Braising or stewing works best with large cuts of meat such as roasts or steaks. Try broiling or grilling thinner slices such as sirloin tip.

These days bison burgers are available in many U.S. restaurants. Bison steak, roasts or ribs are great addition to a weekly dinner menu. Use bison in stews or substitute ground bison for beef in lasagna or a meat sauce.

Photo by The Flying Chef/Recipezaar

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Comments (34)

  1. Laine says:

    And, according to the FDA, bison do not get infected with Mad Cow disease so one less thing to worry about!

  2. mythbuster0001 says:

    Not all feed mixes have hormones or antibiotics in them. Organic bison can be either grass or grain fed. Read your labels or ask your butcher.

    Bison is delicious. Be extra careful when you cook it because it is so lean it will be tough if you overcook. Wrap your filet in a nice strip of bacon, sear it top and bottom and give it a few minutes in a screaming hot oven.

  3. Linda Thiesing says:

    I am so glad i read this article; I was wondering what I could use instead of beef. I am very concerned about “mad cow”.
    Since the issue in Britain I’m off Beef.

  4. Pam says:

    Bison is the only animal that does not get cancer!! I use bison in all my dishes I used to use ground beef and they taste so much better.

  5. Anna says:

    Why is it the bison does not get cancer?

  6. Jen says:

    I LOVE buffalo meat. I no longer use any ground beef. It is so easy to put into pasta sauce, tacos, or soups. I found that the steaks do need to be cooked at a lower temperature or they come out dry. Buffalo also has many more nutrients than beef and I’ll never go back!

  7. Anne says:

    Bison is easily substituted for beef. One of my favorite restaurants is Ted’s Montana Grill, where they have everthing from Bison burgers to Bison Pot Roast and Bison Meatloaf! Very tasty!

  8. Linda says:

    I am so pleased to see the Food Network providing information and recipes for Bison. It is a versatile red meat that is very healthy. Please provide more bison recipes and thanks for introducing Bison to your followers.
    Linda O.

  9. Jennifer says:

    When serving hamburgers to my kids I have to do everything I can to get them to have just one more bite. Make them a buffalo burger and it is gone in no time. Sometimes they ask for a second!

  10. Kathy says:

    Sorry, but with a little research, because I was a bit skeptical of the claim that bison don’t get cancer or “mad cow disease”, I found that they can get both. The reason we don’t tend to see them with it is that, in the wild, animals with those diseases are the first to be taken out by predators.

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