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The bison, perhaps better known by the name of buffalo, has long been unavailable to hunters. However, with herds increasing, one can sometimes buy a quarter when public herds are reduced. Bison or buffalo meat is also coming into the market. Commercial herds in several parts of the country -- from Utah and Wyoming to Pennsylvania -- are supplying restaurants and fancy markets. Yes, it can be bought, if you can afford the prices, which are considerably higher than those of well-fed beef, to which a bison in top condition has been compared.

Roasts, steaks, and ground meat are the forms in which the meat goes to market. The meat is juicy and mild flavored, Traditionally, the hump has been a delicacy cut. This is fine grained; when salted and cut across the grain, it is considered almost as as rich and tender as the tongue, which in its turn is a delicacy considered even better than an English tongue. The tongue of the bison was at one time as much of a single target for hunters as the robe (from the hide) or hump; thousands of animals were slaughtered just for the tongue. These were smoke-cured, barreled, and shipped.

Bison meats should be well trimmed of fat; as with venison, the fat is not the best. The cuts are similar to venison or beef and are cooked the same way. As with venison, the meat is darker red than beef. Bison does tend to have a richer, fuller flavor and the gristle, unless removed, tends to be quite resistant to the teeth of the diner. Because the animal naturally has less marbling of fat through the meat than beef, buffalo roasts should be cooked at a lower temperature than beef; a standing rib roast is rare when the internal temperature reaches 135 degrees. As with good beef and venison, roast and steaks are best cooked to no more than medium-rare unless your family demands well-done meat; then it's a waste to serve them such good meat done that way.

If you think of ordering a quarter when the public herds of bison or buffalo are reduced, keep in mind that these are by nature some of the largest animals on the continent when full grown; a bull may well run 1,800 to 2,000 pounds and a cow (which also carries horns) will run about 800 pounds. I don't believe you can get specific about the size of the quarter you want.

Jacqueline E. Knight

Bison Varieties

Almost all the American bison alive today are the Plains bison. Another variety, larger and darker in color, survived in northern Canada until recently. They now are nearly extinct through interbreeding with the Plains bison. A hybrid called beefalo has been produced by breeding the male bison with a domestic cow.

The European bison (Bos taurus), the wisent, is also sometimes called aurochs. They flourished in Europe centuries ago. Until World War I, 1,500 head were kept in preserves in the Caucasus and in Lithuania by the Russian czar. They are now almost extinct. A few remain in the wilds of Poland and the Caucasus and in European zoos. They should not be confused with the extinct giant ox (Bos primigenius), or urus, of Europe, which were also known as aurochs. The European bison are a little larger than the American bison. They once ranged in small herds.

The true buffalo (genera Syncerus and Bubalus) are native to Asia and Africa. The true buffalo has neither the bison's pronounced hump on its shoulders nor the bison's long hair on the forepart of its body

From Compton's Interactive Encyclopedia 1998


Bison Wellington

Recipe By:	North Country Bison  -  Edmonton, Alta, Canada	

Amount	Measure	Ingredient	Preparation Method
2 1/4	pounds	Bison Tenderloin	
1	sheet	Puff pastry	
1/2	pound	Wild chantrel mushrooms	
1 3/4	ounces	Pate foie gras	

   Sear and season tenderloin.  Saute mushrooms and deglaze pan for jus.
Lay out sheet of pastry spread with foie gras, lay mushrooms down, then
place bison and wrap.  Place on baking sheet, bake at 375 degrees until
internal temperature reaches 140 degrees.  Let rest, slice and serve.


Dakota Buffalo and Beer Pie	

Amount	Measure	Ingredient	Preparation Method
2	lb	Commercially raised buffalo	
		-meat, cut into 1 inch	
2	ts	Salt	
1/2	ts	Freshly ground pepper	
1	t	Sage	
1/3	c	Flour	
1/4	c	Oil	
1	lg	Onion, chopped	
1		Carrot, chopped	
1		Stalk celery, diced	
1	lg	Potato, cubed	
2	c	Beef broth	
1/4	c	Tomato puree	
1	c	Beer	
1		Clove garlic, crushed	
1		Bay leaf	
3		Sprigs parsley	
1		Whole clove	
1/2	ts	Thyme	
		-pastry for a single crust	
9		Inch pie	

  Season the meat cubes with salt, pepper, and sage, and dredge in 1/4
  cup of the flour.  Heat oil in a large skillet and brown the meat on
  all sides. Using a slotted spoon, transfer meat to a heavy Dutch
  oven. In the remaining oil in the skillet, saute onion, carrot,
  celery, and potatoe until lightly browned.  Using a slotted spoon,
  add vegetables to meat in Dutch oven.  Sprinkle remaining flour over
  drippings in skillet and cook stirring, until lightly browned.  Stir
  in the broth, tomato puree, beer, garlic, bay leaf, parsley, clove,
  and thyme. Pour over meat and vegetables. Bring to a boil, cover, and
  simmer until meat is tender, about 1-1/2 hours. Pour into a deep 9
  inch pie dish and let cool. When meat is cool, roll out pastry and
  cover dish. Cut steam vents in crust and bake in preheated 425F oven
  for 30-35 minutes, until pastry is browned. Makes 6 servings.

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