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Thursday, July 07, 2011

Bison Tagliata Recipe

Bison Tagliata
It's Summer and thoughts turn to grilling. Me? I'm in an apartment with no grill, but that doesn't stop me from eating stuff people normally grill like steak. Just as I warmed up to grass fed beef, I'm pretty much head over heals for bison steak and I have a nifty way of cooking it sans grill. It tuns out what we think of as American buffalo is really bison. What's on the buffalo head coin? A bison. There are water buffalo (for that crazy good mozzarella) and the African Cape buffalo (not so sure what they are good for) but American buffalo is really bison so let's go with that.

Bison is much lower in fat than beef, high in iron, slightly lower in cholesterol. Recently I heard Ted Turner speak at the Sustainable Foods Institute, part of the Monterey Bay Aquarium's annual event, Cooking for Solutions. It turns out, he is crazy about bison. He owns the largest herd in the world and has opened a chain of bison restaurants. He loves the romance of the prarie. But the environmental arguments for bison are even stronger. Bison are grazing animals and part of the ecosystem that helps keep grasslands healthy. Because it is so lean, cooking it fairly gently is important so it stays tender and flavorful.

I like a certain Italian way of eating steak called "tagliata" which just means sliced. Instead of a big hunk of meat you get slices of perfectly cooked medium rare steak over a spicy arugula salad drizzled with extra virgin olive oil, some shavings of Parmesan or Pecorino and a wedge of lemon. Using smoked olive oil is a great way to get the taste of the grill without, you know, a grill. It's expensive but a tiny bit goes a long way, and it doesn't lose pungency if you store it properly (in a cool dark place).

This is a super lazy summertime meal, it requires very little cooking, and it's a one dish meal to boot. My biggest complaint about bison is the difficulty in finding it at the store. Ground bison is getting more common but steaks are much harder to locate. I got samples of bison steaks from High Plains Bison, you can purchase from them online or find more producers at Bison Central.

Bison TagliataServes 4


2 ribeye or strip bison steaks
Chunk of Parmesan or Pecorino
1 lemon
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Heat a heavy cast iron skillet over high heat. Pat the steak dry and season generously with salt and pepper. Sear the steak in the skillet, cooking for 2-3 minutes on each side, until brown. Transfer the skillet to the oven and roast for 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and transfer steak to a cutting board and cover with foil and let stand for 10 minutes.

Arrange arugula on 4 plates, shave cheese using a vegetable peeler and place strips of cheese on the salad. Slice the steak against the grain and lay strips on the salad. Drizzle with a tiny bit of olive oil. Serve with a lemon wedge.