Saturday morning Kirk and I went out and ran a bunch of errands. Our original plan was just to hit up the Green City Farmer’s Market in Lincoln Park, but we ended up taking a couple of detours to the Spice House, Old Town Oil, and the Whole Foods in Lincoln Park. The Whole Foods is new, and it is insanely huge given it’s in the middle of the city. I mean, they even have their own little food court inside the store! We picked up some more produce (in addition to the great stuff we bought at the farmer’s market), some fresh crayfish cakes, and a pound of fresh ground bison. Yes… bison. What can I say? We were feeling adventurous. We had been talking for a while about trying some “alternative” meats (organic, hormone-free, and/or healthier cuts), and the bison looked really good.
For those of you that don’t know, bison is an incredibly nutritious meat… arguably more so than lean beef or chicken. Bison are typically allowed to roam freely, and are only fed grain during the last 90-120 days before slaughter (however, many bison herders allow their bison to continue feeding on grass before slaughter). Antibiotics and hormones ARE NOT given to bison. Bison is different from beef in that bison meat is a deeper red color before cooking because there is no marbling (white flecks of fat within the meat muscle). Because bison has considerably less fat, it tends to cook more quickly, and should be cooked at a slightly lower temperature. Bison is said to have a sweeter, richer flavor than beef, which, after experiencing the bison tacos, I agree with!
You should definitely check out this great nutritional chart that I found on the Buffalo Hills Bison website
When we bought the bison we were considering making bison burgers (I mean… duh… it’s probably best to keep things simple when cooking with a new, unfamiliar meat). However, plans changed. The bison ended up hanging out in the fridge until last night (Monday). I didn’t really want to have to freeze it, so I was trying to figure out what to make with it, but I wasn’t in the mood for burgers. Ding- Dong! BISON TACOS! Yes!
One the whole, the bison tacos were easy to make… no different than making beef tacos or turkey tacos… and I got to use one of my new spices from the Spice House which we also bought on Sunday! As I said, the bison was delicious… less fatty than lean ground beef, but richer and more moist than lean ground turkey. It was a nice balance and it took care of my “red meat “craving without being too indulgent.
Note that in the recipe below you can alter the spice amounts to suit your taste. I like to have really strong, spicy flavors when I make my tacos, so I use large amounts of red pepper, chili pepper, and paprika. You certainly don’t have to use that much yourself. Anyway, here’s the recipe (I really wish I’d taken a picture, because the tacos ended up being really amazing):
- 1lb of Bison
- 1/2 Large Onion
- 3/4 cup water
- 1 Tbsp ground cumin seed
- 1 Tbsp dried oregano
- 1 Tbsp crushed red pepper
- 1/2 Tbsp Salt
- 1 Tbsp ground smoked Ancho Chili Pepper
- 1 Tbsp Paprika
- 2 Cloves of crushed garlic
- 12-15 taco shells
- Other toppings as desired (salsa, cheese, sour cream, shredded lettuce, onion, guacamole, etc…)
- Brown the bison in a large skillet over medium-high heat (about 10 minutes)
- While the meat is cooking, chop the onion and add half of it to the cooking meat.
- Add the two crushed garlic cloves to the cooking meat (cooking the garlic, onion, and meat together infuses the meat with the flavor)
- Once the meat is browned, drain the fat from the pan
- Add 3/4 cup water to the meat, and put it back on medium-high heat
- Add cumin, oregano, red pepper, salt, smoked ancho chili, and paprika to the meat
- Bring it to a boil and then reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally
- Spoon into warm taco shells and add toppings as desired