As consumers continue to raise concerns about antibiotics and hormones in beef, some are turning to bison. Commonly referred to as buffalo, American bison are grass fed and are allowed to roam free for the majority of their lives. They are not given antibiotics or growth hormones.
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Compared to choice cut beef, bison has ½ of the calories and less than half of the fat. Bison is an excellent, healthy protein source as it’s low in calories, fat, cholesterol, and sodium but high in iron, potassium, and B6 & B12 vitamins. The fat content in bison is about equal to that of turkey. People describe the flavor of bison as slightly sweeter than beef.
Even though bison may look like beef, it’s important to remember that the significantly lower fat content means it needs to be prepared in a more careful (but by no means difficult) manner. It’s easy to look at cuts of bison, which are the same cuts as beef, and go on autopilot when you cook it. Overcooking bison can have the same undesired effect as overcooking a steak. Take your time when cooking this lean meat and practice the “slow and low” method. Keep temperatures lower and plan on cooking for a longer period of time to preserve the tenderness. For example, when I make bison burgers out of ground bison, I season them as I would hamburgers (minced garlic, sea salt, pepper, onion powder) but preheat the grill on medium (about 400 degrees). When the bison burgers go on the preheated grill, I give each side about 2 minutes to sear, but then turn the flames down to low and cook with the lid on, checking frequently for the desired center firmness. When removing from the grill, I let them rest in foil for 5 minutes to continue cooking. This ensures a cooked inside temperature without letting the very little bit of fat that is inside the burger escape.