marinated bison recipe

New feature here at MLD, where we share a recipe from a cookbook with local ties. Have a cookbook we should consider? Let us know.

Today we’re celebrating the end of summer with The Grassfed Gourmet Fires it Up by Rita Calvert and Michael Heller (which was released in April 2011). Although the authors are based out of Maryland, the Grassfed Gourmet series (which contains one other book, by a different author) is published by Eating Fresh Publications of Haverford, PA.

What’s interesting about this book is that it is more than just a cookbook. In addition to a large repository of recipes, it serves as a manual for home cooks looking to buy more small-farm, pasture-raised meats, including chapters such as “Getting to Know Your Farmer” and “Farm Etiquette”. This is a great feature for those of us who are intrigued by the idea of sustainable, local meat but aren’t as familiar with how to go about attaining this great produce.

The book is filled with simple, interesting grill recipes for beef, bison, pork, lamb, poultry, goat, and more. One thing that is especially nice about the recipes here is that they are specifically concocted for grass-fed, sustainable meat, which tends to be leaner and cooks slightly differently than the same meat found at a supermarket, so if you are cooking with this type of meat, you don’t have to adjust your cooking times and techniques. (Unless, of course, you want to use these recipes for supermarket-bought meat.) My only wish was that there were photos of at least some of the recipes.

For our first recipe from this cookbook, we decided to embrace the local, sustainable idea as much as we could, and picked up a bison sirloin steak from Backyard Bison at the Phoenixville Farmers Market.

Simply Sublime Bison Steaks

1-1.5 lbs bison steak (sirloin, round or flank)
1 T minced onion
2 T brown sugar
2 t grated fresh ginger
1/2 c soy sauce
1/4 t freshly ground pepper
2 T fresh lemon juice
1 large clove garlic, minced
2 T Worcestershire
2 T vegetable oil

Combine the marinade ingredients and mix thoroughly. Add the meat, cover and refrigerate for at least 6 hours or overnight, turning occasionally.

Preheat grill to medium-hot. Place steaks on grill 4-6 inches above the fire. Turn once, basting with reserve marinade. For a one-inch steak, cook 6 minutes for rare and 8 minutes to medium rare. (Bison is best cooked medium rare because it is much leaner than beef.)

Though it requires some advance planning, this marinade is incredibly simple to make and highly flavorful. There’s a great balance of sweet (brown sugar), acidic (lemon) and savory (soy) that provides a sensuous foil to the lean-but-still-beefy meat. I also made a butter out of some of the flavors (soy, lemon peel and ginger) which added a little tang to cut through the richness of the bison and soy.

Bison itself can be a bit challenging to cook for those used to beef, as it is much leaner and thus easier to overcook. I was so paranoid that I was going to over cook it that I took it off too early at first, but I salvaged it with a few more minutes on the grill.

All told this was an easy marinade that would probably work well on any cut of bison or beef, and something I’ll definitely be cooking again.

The Grassfed Gourmet Fires it Up
By Rita Calvert & Michael Heller
Published by Eating Fresh Publications

(Note: a review copy of this book was provided to MLD)