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What’s the Skinny on Bison?

March 10th, 2011 - By Lari Robling

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While bison may conjure up images of the Great Plains, they have recently become of interest on our dinner plates. Phillies team dietician Katie Cavuto Boyle often substitutes bison meat in what she calls the players’ “dude food” — chilies, stews, burgers and even steaks. She says this is an easy, healthy upgrade because it doesn’t change the flavor profile or expectation of the dish.

Bison is lower in calories, saturated fat, and cholesterol. The animals are grass fed so the meat is naturally higher in omega three fatty acids which are good anti-inflammatory agents. It is also higher in iron and vitamin B12.

You can swap out bison meat for beef in any recipe. Katie Cavuto Boyle says it works particularly well in stir-fries. One thing to remember is that it is leaner, so it will take less time to cook and over-cooking will make the meat tough. It’s best to cook bison at a lower temperature than you would beef.

With that in mind, opt for long slow braises or crock-pot recipes especially in the first couple of times you cook with it since there is a greater margin for error. When grilling, it’s better to use the indirect heat method rather than over direct flame.

What’s the difference between bison and buffalo? Essentially none, but strictly speaking they belong to two slightly different scientific classifications. In the Americas we have bison, whereas Asia and Africa have the true buffalo.

You can find bison meat here in Philadelphia in natural supermarkets, farmers markets, butcher’s shops and, of course, mail order online.

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Photo by Flicker user Yolise / CC BY-NC 2.0

About Lari Robling
Lari Robling's food career had its early beginnings as a home ec teacher for the visually impaired. Later, she decided to become a food professional and worked for caterers and restaurants. Lari landed her first job in a test kitchen for a small health food publication, Delicious! magazine. From there, she began a freelance career as a food stylist and food consultant. She is also the author of Endangered Recipes: Too Good to Be Forgotten.

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