Bison Bonanza

I spent the better part of yesterday in the kitchen, which is always a pleasure.

Among the things I did was cook two large bison roasts (about 12 to 13 pounds each) in a pair of roasters that we have. Today, I will shred the meat and add it to a blueberry-honey barbecue sauce that was featured here recently.

While I’ve cooked bison roasts before, this was the first time for one that large. Mostly, though, I’ve made bison burgers and bison chili.

I’m a big fan of lean ground meat such as bison, elk and venison. Besides their great flavor, those kinds of meat also are much lower in fat (and cholesterol) than beef or pork.

With that in mind, I’m always on the lookout for recipes that feature those types of meat. Recently, I came across a couple of bison recipes that caught my eye. One is a Mediterranean Bison Burger, and the other is for chili.

The burger recipe takes into account that this type of meat needs care to prevent it from drying out.

To that end, green olives, sun-dried tomatoes and an egg are added to the ground meat. After the burger is cooked, it’s topped with fried onions that have been cooked in balsamic vinegar. I can’t wait to sink my teeth into one of those.

And what can you say about chili recipes? I’ve never had one that wasn’t satifying.

Bison Chili
3 pounds ground bison
2 large onions, chopped
1 16-ounce can peeled tomatoes
1 tablespoon ground black pepper
1 25-ounce can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 25-ounce can chili beans
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
4 cups ketchup
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 teaspoons minced cilantro
1 teaspoon dried thyme
½ teaspoon powdered mustard
In skillet, brown bison. Transfer to large pan or crockpot and stir in remaining ingredients. Simmer at least 1 hour. Ladle into bowls or over baked potatoes. (If serving over baked potatoes, place in oven to bake while chili simmers.) Top with grated cheese if desired.
Yield: Serves 10 to 12.

Mediterranean Bison Burger
1 pound ground bison
8 green olives, chopped
3 sun-dried tomato halves in oil, chopped
1 egg, slightly beaten
½ cup bread or cracker crumbs
¾ teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 red onion, halved, cut in thin slices
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
4 buns, toasted
Place bison in a large bowl; break up slightly with fork. Add olives, sun-dried tomato and egg; work together with your hands until just mixed (don’t overwork). Add breadcrumbs, ¼ teaspoon of the salt and pepper to taste; mix until just combined. Form into 4 patties; season them on both sides with ¼ teaspoon of the salt and pepper to taste.
Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large skillet; add patties. Cook, turning once, until browned on both sides and medium rare, 9 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat remaining 1 tablespoon of the oil in a second large skillet; add onion, seasoning with remaining ¼ teaspoon of the salt. Cook onions until soft and translucent, stirring in balsamic vinegar when almost done, 8 minutes. Serve burgers on buns topped with onions and condiments of your choice.
Yield: Serves 4.
Approximate nutritional analysis per burger: 549 calories, 48 percent of calories from fat, 29 grams fat (2 grams saturated), 147 milligrams cholesterol, 36 grams carbohydrates, 35 grams protein, 951 milligrams sodium, 2 grams fiber.