I have recently, for the most part, given up beef. I’m not a vegetarian – far from it. I’m not fighting for some political cause. It’s just that, more and more, when I crave red meat, I want bison. Grilled steak? Bison sirloin. Burger night? Bison burger. Tacos? Bison skirt steak. Bolognese? Ground bison. Braised short ribs? Braised bison!
Bison vs Beef
My love for bison has blossomed because it features most of the best beef qualities, without that lead weight developing in my stomach afterward. Bison is hearty and rich and pairs well with big red wines (try something from the Rhone), yet it is much leaner, which means that, after I eat bison, I actually feel good!
The hardcore beef lovers among you, of course, will sneer and say that leanness = blandness. Bison, however, has enough gamy flavor that it mostly makes up for the missing fat. If you love yourself a big, fatty porterhouse, of course, bison may let you down. However, bison stands tall compared to a filet, a burger, or a New York strip.
In addition, bison is truly local meat; these tasty hulks (which are often confused with, but not actually buffalo) are the only bovines native to North America. When cows were imported to this continent in the 1600s, an estimated 40-60 million bison roamed the plains. However, during the Gold Rushes of the 1800s, bison were killed off in huge numbers, almost going extinct. Today, small farmers, such as Backyard Bison in Coopersburg, PA – about an hour north of Philly – are bringing bison back. (There are approximately 500K in North America today.)