Since I've returned from Paris, I've been looking at ways to eat healthier in my home by doing more research into the products I'm cooking and consuming. I'm not ready to give up meat, but I am trying to eat meat from happy animals who have room to roam, eat the grass they were born to ingest, and nothing else. I can't believe it's come to the point where we have to, or are actually petitioning to put the words no hormones or antibiotics on a label, but here we are.
So in walks the American Buffalo. You'll find this big beast "typically" grazing on the open prairie, eating grass and no Cheetos or artificial ingredients. The meat is low in fat, cholesterol and calories, but high in protein. Jack pot!
We're off to a good start, but where's a bison virgin to go from here? I went as close to the source as I could get....on my bike. This of course is the Santa Monica Farmer's Market. Wednesday's free-for-all has all the big chefs in town preparing their menus with the week's bounty that will ultimately make it into my stomach and onto TastingPage.
Before we hit the market, I need to back up to my research learning about the Cattle Queen, Margaret Carlston, who drove 500 cattle from our neighbors to the north in Canada, down to the open plains of Montana back in 1903. Enter great grand daughter Kathy Margaret Carlston Linder and her husband with a few less names, Ken Linder. They decided to carry on the tradition, but with a healthier alternative to the family beef by bringing bison to a nice spot of land in N. CA. Linder Bison was born.
I visited Linder Bison's stall at the market and got more education, as well as some direction on where to start. I was told the ground bison was good for beginners, so off I went to my test kitchen.
My biggest fear was that it would taste gamey, but it didn't. In fact, it's not too far from beef, with a little more sweetness and richness. I can't say I'd just cook the ground meat up and eat it on its own because there's not a lot going on, but it holds flavor well, so I made some tacos and was very pleased with how the seasonings fit right in. Sure it's different than beef, but at over a 1/4 of the fat, I'm willing to adjust.
My bison quest had begun. The next week I went to the Santa Monica Co-Op and they had grass-fed bison and I made Buffalo Balls with them. Yup, buffalo balls.
I did the kitchen sink thing, throwing in some homemade vegan Worcestershire, which was a really nice companion, in addition to onions, garlic, lemon zest, fresh rosemary, and a little almond flour and egg to hold it all together.
I rolled them into small balls and stuck them in the fridge for an hour or two so the flavors would merge and they'd hold their shape while cooking.
Then they went on to the grill pan for a sear. You can finish them in the oven, or just over low heat on the stove until it's cooked through. I threw some chopped up mushrooms in a few of them, and liked it, but would recommend a very fine dice so there's no big chunks throwing off the ball balance.
I made a yogurt, cucumber, and mint tzatzki sauce, which was as nice of a companion as was a homemade ketchup.
Yes, you're now looking at a new bison fan. Time to graduate to steaks!