A bison meat is a type of beef that comes from the American Bison, more commonly known as the buffalo. Bison meat, sometimes called buffalo meat, is both delicious and healthy, containing less fat and calories compared to beef, yet more essential nutrients like iron and zinc. Bison meat is also considered a sustainable alternative to traditional beef; as bison are naturally adapted to the environment and have extremely low agricultural inputs, some studies have suggested that bison production might be better for the environment, especially when purchasing local.
The Bison is one of the oldest species in North America and has long been part of the cultural and spiritual practices of many indigenous tribes. For generations, bison provided food, shelter, clothing and religious ceremonies. It has only recently become popular among consumers in the US and Europe, primarily as an alternative to beef and pork.
Bison meat is richer in flavor compared to beef. It tends to be leaner and slightly sweeter than beef but still as tender, making it highly suitable for grilling, roasting, braising, and stewing. Bison can also be ground for burgers and meatloaf, though it has more texture than beef, making it a challenge to hold together.
The nutrition profile of bison meat is beneficial to both meat-eaters and vegetarians alike. Research measuring the nutritional differences between different types of meat and beans showed bison had the highest amount of essential fatty acids and protein. Specifically, compared to Angus beef, bison offered 30% more iron and zinc, 41% more vitamin B-12 and 8% more protein. Additionally, bison is much lower in fat and cholesterol content than beef and other red meats, making it an ideal source of healthy protein and essential fats.
When selecting bison meat, it’s important to select a reputable source. Check to see that the meat is free of growth hormones and antibiotics. Certified organic ingredients should also be preferred, as they are free of synthetic fertilizers or pesticides. The sustainable nature of bison makes it particularly desirable to those wishing to support ecologically friendly food initiatives.
When shopping for bison meat, look for cuts that are lean and well-marbled. If it’s in an unattainable cut that’s not readily available, ground bison is a great alternative. Bison is best cooked using low heat and times that are shorter than what’s usually recommended for beef. Otherwise, there’s a risk of it drying out and becoming tough.
To cook bison steaks, season them with salt and pepper before quick-cooking them in a hot pan. For medium-rare, cook for three to four minutes on each side. If cooking a larger cut, transfer the steak to a hot oven to finish cooking. Bison is also delicious when grilled over low-medium heat - three to four minutes per side is enough time to achieve a medium-rare finish.
So, if you’re looking for a delicious and sustainable source of protein, bison could be a great way to break the monotony of beef. Bison is tasty and healthier than your typical cut of steak, so if you can find a producer near you, you can be sure to find an ethically sourced, sustainable, and nutritionally balanced meal.