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Saturday, October 24, 2009

Health Benefits of Bison (Buffalo) Meat

[Readers, stay tuned for a new feature in this blog:  Cooking with Bison.  Page and I will periodically prepare a new bison dish, either from an online recipe or from our own invention and I will write about it here.  We will include photos as well as what we learned during the cooking process and reactions from everyone in the family.  We will cover every cut of meat:  roasts, steaks, ground bison, ribs, everything.  It should be fun!]

Bison meat, sometimes called the “better red meat” has a rich, beef-like taste, often described as sweeter than beef.   Page and I first tasted bison last summer, when he grilled some ground bison for burgers.  The burgers were tender and moist but without that greasy undertaste that you find with ground beef.  Our two teenage boys, burger aficionados, loved them.

Grass-fed bison is lower in both overall fat and saturated fat, and has the added advantage of providing more omega-3 fats.  These healthy fats are found in flaxseeds, fish, walnuts, soybeans and in meat from animals that have grazed on omega-3 rich grass.  When cattle raised for consumption are taken off grass  and shipped to a feedlot to be fattened on grain, they immediately begin losing the omega-3s they have stored in their tissues. As a result, the meat from feedlot animals typically contains only 15- 50 percent as much omega-3s as that from grass-fed livestock.

Nutritional Information about Bison Meat when compared with Beef, Pork, and Chicken

Per 100 gram serving – cooked meat
Species     Fat
Vitamin B-12
Bison 2.42 143 82 3.42 2.86
Beef (choice): 10.15 219 86 2.99 2.65
Beef (select): 8.09 201 86 2.99 2.64
Pork: 9.66 212 86 1.1 0.75
Chicken (Skinless): 7.41 190 89 1.21 0.33

Source:  USDA

Bison Meat Cooking Tips

Bison meat is similar to beef and is cooked in much the same way.  However, the lower fat content means that bison meat will cook faster.  Because fat acts as an insulator, marbling (fat within the muscle) aids in slowing down the cooking process.  Since bison meat lacks marbling, the meat cooks more rapidly and caution must be taken to ensure that you do not overcook it.  Hence, the widespread use of the phrase “low and slow” when describing how to cook bison.

You may use bison in any recipe that calls for beef -- from burgers on the grill, to marinated steaks, to stir fry and tacos.  Just remember that it takes about one-third less cooking time on lower heat than recipes using beef.

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