Bison, or Buffalo as it seems more commonly known, has been making a steady comeback over the last few decades. Nearly driven to extinction, the American Bison was saved through nearly a century of hard work by conservationists. Now specialty ranches offer Bison meat in many markets and through many stores and in most cases free-range and free of steroids, hormones, and antibiotics.
It's Healthier Than Beef
Bison meat is lower in fat, cholesterol, and calories than beef, pork, and even skinless chicken. Since Bison are more resistant to disease than cattle there is no need for antibiotic feed. Bison is typically raised in a more natural environment than our current system of mega-corporate ranching, so the Bison meat you buy comes without the hormones used to make cows grow fast and fat. Bison is also higher in iron and Vitamin B12 than beef. Despite all these differences, Bison is very similar to beef in flavor and texture. Most people will tell you that it has a slightly sweeter, richer flavor, and is largely non-allergenic.
Should Be Prepared Carefully
Bison is much leaner than beef (about a third the fat) so it can dry out faster when cooking and should be prepared carefully. Always defrost Bison or Buffalo meat in the refrigerator. Microwaves cook while defrosting and this cooking, while limited, will accelerate the drying of the meat. To help add moisture to Bison, marinate it in an oil-based marinade that is light on vinegar or other acids (like citrus juices). The extra oil with help to prevent drying while cooking.
The Best Way to Cook Bison Is on the Grill
You'll get the added extra flavor to the meat in an environment that will let you control how it cooks. Remember not to cook Bison beyond medium in order to keep it moist. The secret to Bison is to cook it lower than you would beef. Intense, searing heat will dry it out. A medium heat is perfect and most beef recipes can be adapted to Bison by lowering the temperature a little and adding a few minutes of cooking time. Larger cuts can be grilled on a rotisserie, but you should use an oil-based baste to keep the meat moistened.
Once you've tried Bison and gotten used to the difference in cooking it is a meat you will enjoy both for its delicious flavor and health benefits.