Go for Bison

I don’t have anything against beef, but my preference is wild game. Along those lines, I also like bison, no matter what form it is in. Over the years, I’ve eaten bison steak, ground bison burgers and bison roasts.

One thing I haven’t had is bison stew, although we’ve had our share of venison and elk stews.

That’s going to change soon. Next month, I’m going to help a friend, Lillian Elsinga, at a little get-together she’s throwing for out-of-town guests who will be here to celebrate her retirement from UND, where she’s dean of students.

One of the items on the menu will be Blueberry-Buffalo Stew. Lillian was given the recipe by Twyla Baker-Demaray, who is director of the National Resource Center on Native American Aging at UND’s Center for Rural Health School of Medicine and Health Sciences.

Besides blueberries and chunks of bison, the stew also contains a little chicken or beef stock, oil, honey and sherry (optional). And if you like your stew a little spicy, a dash of cayenne pepper.

One of the reasons I’m a big fan of meats such as bison, venison and elk is that they are lower in fat and cholesterol than most domestically raised cattle, which means they are healthier for you.

For those of you who also would like to try the stew recipe, it follows and does one for another of my favorites, sloppy Joes, using ground bison.

Blueberry-Buffalo Stew
1½ to 2 pounds buffalo or beef stew meat.
1 cup blueberries
4 cups chicken or beef stock
2 tablespoons canola oil
1½ tablespoons honey
3 tablespoons dry sherry (optional)
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste
Cut the meat into 1-inch chunks and season lightly with salt and pepper.
Heat a large stew pot. Drizzle in oil or bacon dripping to coat the bottom.
Working in batches, brown the meat well on all sides. Add oil as necessary.
Remove browned meat to a clean dish and cover.
Once all the meat is browned, return it all to the pan with any juices. Add stock and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and skim off any froth that has collected on the surface until the broth is clear. Add the blueberries, honey, sherry and cayenne pepper and bring back to a boil.
Simmer for 2 hours or until the meat is very tender and the broth has reduced. Stir occasionally. This helps to break up the blueberries and incorporate them into the liquid. By the end of the cooking time the blueberries should be completely incorporated.

Sloppy Joes
1 pound ground buffalo
1 medium onion
1 tablespoon mustard
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon vinegar
¾ cup ketchup
1 teaspoon salt
½ cup green pepper
½ cup celery
Brown meat in large heavy skillet over moderate heat for 2 to 3 minutes, breaking up clumps. Add onion, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, sugar, vinegar, ketchup, salt, green pepper and celery. Reduce heat to low and cook, stirring now and then, about 40 minutes until flavors mingle. Place ½ hamburger bun on each of 4 plates and ladle meat sauce generously on top. Serve at once.
Serves 4
Approximate nutritional analysis, per Joe (including bun): 344 calories 344, 13 percent of calories from fat; 4.9 grams fat (1.5 grams saturated, 2.1 grams monunsaturated, 0.7 grams polyunsaturated), 33 grams protein, 41 grams carbohydrates, 2.91 grams fiber, 81 milligrams cholesterol, 1,467 milligrams sodium, 88 milligrams calcium.