Archive for Wednesday, September 16, 2009

What do I do with … bison

Don Gibbs feeds an apple to a bison at Lone Star Lake Bison Ranch. The family began raising its herd of bison 20 years ago.

Don Gibbs feeds an apple to a bison at Lone Star Lake Bison Ranch. The family began raising its herd of bison 20 years ago.

September 16, 2009

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Terri Gibbs is shown with the different cuts of meat sold through her family’s business, Lone Star Lake Bison Ranch, located in Overbrook. Bison meat is a lower-fat red meat alternative and versatile in a variety of dishes.

Terri Gibbs is shown with the different cuts of meat sold through her family’s business, Lone Star Lake Bison Ranch, located in Overbrook. Bison meat is a lower-fat red meat alternative and versatile in a variety of dishes.

Bison play at Lone Star Lake Bison Ranch, owned by Don and Terri Gibbs. The Gibbs and their herd are on the Kaw Valley Farm Tour for the fourth time this Saturday and Sunday.

Bison play at Lone Star Lake Bison Ranch, owned by Don and Terri Gibbs. The Gibbs and their herd are on the Kaw Valley Farm Tour for the fourth time this Saturday and Sunday.

Bison is a game meat often sought out by beef lovers looking to improve their nutritional profile. Local bison sellers include the Lone Star Lake Bison Ranch, which is located at 538 N. 300 Road in Overbrook.

Bison is a game meat often sought out by beef lovers looking to improve their nutritional profile. Local bison sellers include the Lone Star Lake Bison Ranch, which is located at 538 N. 300 Road in Overbrook.

LOW-FAT MEAT

What it is: A lean red meat, bison comes in the same cuts beef is available in: K.C. strip, rib-eye, sirloin, etc.

Season: Bison is available year-round.

Nutrition: According to www.nutritiondata.com, 4 ounces of bison meat contains 123 calories, 2 grams of fat, 24 grams of protein and provides 19 percent of one’s daily iron.

How to store: Store bison as you would any other red meat, in the fridge or freezer.

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HOW TO COOK IT

Bison meat can be cooked just like beef. However, the fat does not marble, and any fat on the outside of the cut should be removed, says Terri Gibbs, owner of Lone Star Lake Bison Ranch.

The best cooking method in Gibbs’ opinion? Low and slow as not to overdo it. She also recommends using a marinade to add liquid, as the meat has no grease to it.

For Hilary Brown, owner of Local Burger, 714 Vt., a favorite way to cook bison steaks is to sear them in a hot, oil-free pan.

“Place the steak in the pan, and it will sear the steak on that side in about 30 seconds or less — you will know that it was perfectly seared when it releases with ease, flip it over and sear the other side,” Brown says. “After you sear the steak, place it in a 400-degree oven for 6 to 11 minutes — the thicker the steak, the longer it stays in. Test your steak to check if it is done by pushing on it with your finger or tongs — if it is super-squishy, it is rare, if there is no squish to it and it is kind of bouncy, it is well-done. It really is easy to get the hang of the squish test. After you take the steak out, let it rest for 5 to 10 minutes before cutting it.”

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When Jared Gibbs looks out his bedroom window first thing in the morning, it’s almost “Home on the Range” come to life.

Gibbs lives with his son, Shawn, 10, on his parents’ Lone Star Lake Bison Ranch, where the Gibbs family — headed by Don and Terri — has been raising the majestic beast of the great plains since starting with a bull and cow, Rhett and Scarlett, 20 years ago.

“I wake up and sit down, and all of a sudden they run by the window,” he says of the family’s herd of about 20 bison. “My window’s on the far corner over there, and so I can see them, every time they walk by, I can hear them. You know, that’s kind of cool. They’re 10 feet, 20 feet from my window, walking by.”

Near extinction 100 years ago, bison now have a healthy population — numbering close to 200,000 on private ranches and farms in the United States in 2007, according to the National Bison Association.

They have a healthy reputation, too, literally: The meat is low in fat but high in protein and iron, making it a good alternative for beef lovers worried about too much fat. According to the National Bison Association, 3.5 ounces of bison meat has half the calories and 16 fewer grams of fat than USDA “choice” beef.

“To me, this is very descriptive, and it’s not actually my words, but, I have a lot of people say, ‘It tastes like what beef used to taste like,’” Terri Gibbs says. “In that it’s clean, it just has the great natural flavor to it. It’s not gamey at all.”

It’s also a healthy choice for people worried about the hormones and antibiotics used in commercially produced beef, says Hilary Brown, owner of Local Burger, 714 Vt., which sells bison burgers and cuts of meat.

“One nice thing to know about bison meat is that they never get hormones, and most producers either do not use antibiotics or use very little antibiotic because they eat primarily grass, the diet that is intended for them,” Brown says. “There is a great deal of local bison meat that is raised in a way that produces a very nutritious product ... a great balance of fats — higher in omega-3s than conventionally raised meats — and amino acids.”

Big, ‘exotic’ business

On the Gibbs farm in Overbrook, the bison don’t only roam past Jared Gibbs’ window, they roam the pasture, eating the native grasses before being called in by Jared’s father, Don, with treats of apples and pears.

The herd includes the Gibbs’ original cow, Scarlett, now called “Gimpy” because of her penchant for injury, as well as a few other named bison — Louie, the bull of the herd, and Peanut, a female bottle-raised by the family.

“Her mom didn’t take her ... and so we kind of have to save her from her mom. We used to have an old barn here, and for a while we took care of her until she was big enough,” Jared Gibbs says of Peanut. “She’s still the tamest buffalo of all.”

Well, maybe not the tamest, ahem, buffalo — that honor might go to Nike, a fluffy dark brown dog who is shaved to look like one of the big fellas. As the herd comes in, Nike relaxes on the porch of the family store, looking like a very miniature version of an animal that can weigh upward of 2,000 pounds.

Back when the Gibbs bought Scarlett and Rhett, cooking bison was as rare as Nike’s haircut.

“When we first started raising buffalo and eating buffalo, it was like it was an exotic meat,” says Terri Gibbs.

It was exotic, too, for her son, who was a teen at the time.

“Most people around here had pigs or cattle or something else. When I was 15, no one had buffalo — let alone nobody had ever seen them,” says the now-29-year-old. “When people found out that we were eating buffalo, they were like, ‘Aren’t they endangered?’”

No, and they haven’t been for a while. After conservation efforts were made around 1900 to increase the bison population, which had dwindled to about 1,000 at that time from an estimated 30 to 70 million before 1600 in North America, the number of bison increased enough that commercial bison meat sales began in the 1960s.

Cooking bison

Terri Gibbs says the ranch slaughters only as needed, maybe two to three animals a month. Slaughter-sized animals are 2-year-olds that weigh between 800 and 900 pounds. Each animal produces about 250 pounds of meat, says Gibbs, which is divided into identical cuts to beef — from T-bone to short ribs to sirloin.

As for the best cut? Brown, of Local Burger, has her favorites.

“I think the rib-eye is the best cut for a steak. I love it,” she says. “I also love to get roasts and make hash: Slow-cooking it all day with some vegetables — onion, potato, celery, carrot, bullion. Makes for an awesome fall meal and great sandwiches.”

Brown says that no matter the cut, the biggest concern with bison meat is overcooking it. Bison meat does not marble and therefore can get tough if cooked too long.

“Bison meat, as most folks know, is quite lean, especially if they have been raised on grass only and not finished on grain. When you have a lean meat it can get pretty tough when you overcook,” Brown says. “I recommend to folks to cook buffalo medium-rare to medium. Grass-fed and -finished bison, which is what most of our local producers have, has a healthy fat.”

Terri Gibbs says that once the lack of fat has been noted, cook it on low heat and slowly. Bison can be used just like beef — in roasts, stir-fries or the slow-cooker, on the grill and pan-fried, broiled or braised.

“I’m a baker, so the roasts are awesome,” Terri Gibbs says. “We do a tenderized round steak, just kind of slow in the oven or the crock pot or the electric skillet. You can either do tomatoes and onions and or green peppers and do like a Swiss steak, or you can do your gravy. It’s awesome — it’s one of our favorites.”


RECIPES

Tenderized Bison Round Steak

1-2 pounds round steak

Onions

Green peppers

Stewed or canned tomatoes

Salt

Pepper

Lightly flour round steak and place in a large skillet coated with olive or Canola oil. Brown on both sides. Slice onion and green pepper and place on top of round steak. Add one can of tomatoes and sufficient water to cover met. Simmer until tender (1 to 1.5 hours).

— Recipe from Lone Star Lake Bison Ranch

Red Curry Bison Short Ribs with Baby Bok Choy

1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons red curry paste (more or less to taste)

3 cloves garlic

Three 1/8-inch-thick slices peeled fresh ginger

1/2 cup coarsely chopped cilantro stems plus 1/2 cup chopped cilantro leaves, divided

6 scallions, coarsely chopped

1/2 cup water

2 teaspoons Canola oil

3 pounds bone-in bison short ribs or 2 pounds boneless, trimmed

2 cups thinly sliced red onion

1 1/2 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth

3 tablespoons fish sauce

2 tablespoons lime juice, or more to taste

3 ripe tomatoes, seeded and diced

1 cup light coconut milk

6 baby bok choy, cut in half, or 3 regular bok choy, quartered

Ground black pepper, to taste

In a blender or food processor, combine the curry paste, garlic, ginger, cilantro stems, scallions and water. Blend until they form a loose paste. Add more water if the mixture is too dense to blend. Set aside.

In a large pot or Dutch oven over medium, heat the oil. Add the ribs and brown on all sides, about 6 to 8 minutes total.

Stir in the red curry mixture, onion, broth, fish sauce and lime juice. Bring to a simmer. Cover, reduce heat to maintain a simmer, and cook, turning the ribs every 30 minutes, until the meat is very tender when pierced with a fork, 2 to 2 1/2 hours.

Transfer the ribs to a plate, then cover to keep warm.

Add the tomatoes and coconut milk to the broth in the pot. Bring to a simmer. Add bok choy, then cover and cook until the thick ends of the bok choy can be easily pierced with a fork, about 10 to 20 minutes. Season with pepper and more lime juice, if desired. Serve topped with cilantro leaves.

— Recipe from the March-April 2009 issue of EatingWell magazine via The Associated Press

Greek Bison Burgers with Yogurt Sauce

1 pound ground bison

1/2 cup cooked chopped spinach, squeezed dry

1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese

3 teaspoons chopped fresh dill, divided

1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon minced garlic

Kosher salt and ground black pepper

3/4 cup nonfat or low-fat Greek-style plain yogurt

1 teaspoon lemon zest

2 teaspoons lemon juice

1 teaspoon chopped fresh mint

4 French rolls or four 4-inch pieces of baguette, split and toasted

16 thin slices English cucumber

8 slices tomato

4 thin slices red onion

Heat a grill to medium-high.

In a large bowl, gently combine the bison, spinach, feta, 2 teaspoons of the dill, oregano, cumin, garlic, 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper. Be careful not to overmix. Form into 4 oval-shaped patties roughly the size of the rolls. Set aside.

To prepare the yogurt sauce, in a small bowl combine the yogurt, lemon zest and juice, remaining teaspoon of dill and the mint. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Oil the grill rack using an oil-soaked folded paper towel held with tongs. Grill the burgers until an instant-read thermometer inserted at the center registers 155 degrees, about 5 to 6 minutes per side.

Assemble the burgers on rolls with the yogurt sauce, cucumber, tomato and onion.

— Recipe from the March-April issue of EatingWell magazine via The Associated Press

Comments

Danimal 8 years, 9 months ago

God bless LJW for doing a piece on delicious red meat. My first thought when I saw the title was "EAT THEM!"

Flap Doodle 8 years, 9 months ago

This is my bison. I will hug him and squeeze him and call him George.

Amy Heeter 8 years, 9 months ago

That's what I thought when I saw the picture of the bison being fed an apple. Just can't do it.

countrygirl 8 years, 9 months ago

I prefer beef too, but had a very tasty bison sirloin in South Dakota this summer. I'd like to know what they marinated it in--I'm sure it needed some help so it would be tender but it was very good.

salad 8 years, 9 months ago

what to do with bison? The same thing Native Americans did: use everything but the "moo".

MoparGuy 8 years, 9 months ago

There's a place off of I-70 just West of Denver in the mountains called El Rancho-the bison burger there alone sold me on bison meat...my mouth is watering just thinking about it!

meggers 8 years, 9 months ago

I think bison has a much richer flavor than beef and because it isn't loaded with fat, you get more actual meat per pound with ground bison or bison steak. As for it being tougher than beef, I have never experienced that with bison steak- it just needs to be cooked a bit more slowly.

Bison burgers can be a bit dryer, due to the low fat content, but one can always mix in some ground chuck to make for a juicier burger. I use ground bison for pretty much anything you might use ground beef for- chili, tacos, spaghetti, etc.

remember_username 8 years, 9 months ago

  1. "he says of the family’s herd of about 20 bison"
  2. "the ranch slaughters only as needed, maybe two to three animals a month"
  3. "Slaughter-sized animals are 2-year-olds that weigh between 800 and 900 pounds"

Umm...anybody else do the math?

lslbison 8 years, 9 months ago

Very interesting conversation this morning. As I'm sure most of you know, this article only includes portions of the interview. Most importantly, not all buffalo meat (nor beef, pork, chicken, etc.) is the same - there is some bad stuff out there as it's becoming more popular and mass produced/distributed. Suppliers are using older animals, feedlotting them, etc. all in the name of the almighty buck. And to the gentleman who is trying to do the math: we have a partner/lifelong friend who lives 5 miles from us who raises buffalo also and that is where some of our animals come from, as well as a fellow producer who lives near Eskridge, KS. Both follow the same practices we do, and so yes, we know where our meat comes from. Hope that helps clarify the rather rude comment that was made. Also, wanted to mention the Lawrence Farmers' Market and the Kaw Valley Farm Tour-both great ways to buy local, support local farmers and our community whose future depends on folks who support local businesses. Thanks for letting me clarify a few points, Terri Gibbs

Janet Lowther 8 years, 9 months ago

Comparing grass-fed bison to USDA Choice beef is comparing apples to oranges. A more valid test would be grass-fed bison to grass-fed beef (like the Tallgrass people out in Sedan sell.) A zero-trim grass-fed beef steak can have a fat content rivaling that of skinless chicken breast.

And yes, pretty much any really lean red meat, regardless of species, be it from a buffalo, cow, sheep deer, elk, moose or whatever, will get as tough as shoe leather if cooked dry and over done.

remember_username 8 years, 9 months ago

Terri - thanks for the clarification. I thought there was an error in the reporting of the facts, and assumed either a typo in the herd size, or a harvest of 2-3 per year rather than 2-3 per month. Since your harvest is supplemented by other herds the numbers make sense. As a scientist I try to teach my students to think about the data that is presented in everything they read as a aid in critical analysis. Thus, without the clarifying information the harvest quantity versus herd size was unsustainable and my left-brain automatically went "say what?".

I apologize if you thought my comment rude. It's just that, with all the numbers being thrown around these days (you should read some of these blogs), I think we could all do with more left-brains alerts of "say what?".

Charles L. Bloss, Jr. 8 years, 9 months ago

My father in law used to raise bison. The bison head at Buffalo Bob's is from his herd. After eating fatty beef all my life, it took me a while to get used to and appreciate the bison. Hamburger does need a bit of fat added to it, just as venison does. The roast needs to be cooked slowly. The meat is good and lean, I grew to love it. Thank you, Lynn

Flap Doodle 8 years, 9 months ago

Chili made with half beef & half buffalo is one of mankind's greatest inventions, IMHO.

lounger 8 years, 9 months ago

THis is fab! I ONLY eat Bison and never touch nasty cow. So much better for you for sure. Im native american so I miss the bison and respect them very much.

divingdiva 8 years, 9 months ago

A couple of issues that have not been discussed yet in this fairytale article -- what is the cholesterol level of buffalo flesh compared to cow flesh? Just simply saying buffalo flesh has less fat doesn't mean it is heart healthy (low cholesterol). Most people think chicken is better for you than cow, but truth is they both have approximately the same amount of cholesterol per serving, which ultimately is what clogs our arteries.

Second, how are these magnificent animals slaughtered? Captive bolt gun? Gunshot to the head? Throat slit while alive and restrained? I think the public has a right to know. We know how factory farmed animals are slaughtered, so just curious how these local family farms do their killing?

Just curious . . .

Boosh 8 years, 9 months ago

What do I do with … bison?

Get a bigger litter box

Brandon Devlin 8 years, 9 months ago

Yum. . .bison summer sausage. Bison burgers. Bison steaks.

As for how they are slaughtered: Does it really matter? Dead is dead. To get to the table, someone's going to have to do the dirty work.

tigerlil42 8 years, 9 months ago

I would like to know where can buy some bison. My mom used to live by these people, she got me some to try. I can't find any in Northeast Texas. I loved it. so did my daughter. If anyone knows where can order to be shipped to me, I would appreciate it.

pinkrose 8 years, 9 months ago

tigerlil42 There are many bison producers. I recommend Smoky Hill Bison Farm. Check out their website www.bisonfarm.com. Another great producer is New Grass Bison at www.newgrassbison.com.
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jumpin_catfish 8 years, 9 months ago

I eat bison from Don and Terry's business almost every week, usually get it at the farm's market. If you haven't tried a bison tenderloin, you won't be disappointed. A little bacon wrap, a very hot grille. Yummie, I like mine rare. Also, they are great folks! snap_pop_no_crackle is correct on the chili!

UlyssesPro 8 years, 9 months ago

"Near extinction 100 years ago, bison now have a healthy population — numbering close to 200,000 on private ranches and farms in the United States in 2007, according to the National Bison Association."

Hmm, can a population really be "healthy" if most of their kind lives in captivity waiting to be slaughtered?

We need to wake up and realize killing is killing no matter if it's done on a family farm or behind the closed doors of a slaughterhouse circa Garden City. Ask yourself why not kill the family dog on the family farm and eat him too? Maybe the answer is because killing animals is repulsive when so many other food options exist.

firemedic301 8 years, 9 months ago

Ulysses, dogs and cats are eaten overseas primarily in Southeast Asia and in Ghana dog meat has medicinal powers (look it up on google). Horse meat is a delicacy in France. How about the chinese restaurant in Lawrence that was shut down by the state because they had coyote carcasses hanging in the cooler. How about the poor soybeans that are planted only to die so tree huggers like you can eat your tofu!? come on get a life.. oh PS I'm taking my nephew out tomorrow to go deer hunting:)

lslbison 8 years, 9 months ago

Good morning Lawrence! I am thrilled that this article has elicited such great discussion about an integral part of our lives...our food, how it is grown, produced and harvested, and hope it continues as there is so much to be discussed. I 'd like to take a moment to clarify a few points made by those of you who have concerns. And certainly, we should all have concerns about our food, and to attempt to speak on behalf of all your local food producers who work so hard to sustain their family farms and take great pride in knowing that they are helping to feed their community. Did you know that the country of origin laws now required simply means that meat can reside in a warehouse in the US for three months and still come from China, Mexico, etc. As for the nutritional concerns about bison, I encourage you to visit the National Bison Association's website at www.bisoncentral.com for more indepth information. I invite divingdiva to come out to this fairytale life on a Friday when I am lifting 50 lbs of meat, weighing it, etc., at 3:30 am on a Sat. when I am getting ready for the farmers' market or during the winter when we are putting hay out for our buffalo in the dark with snow and ice sticking to our faces and hands. Like all farmers, we work hard and I take offense to this implication. The method and rationale behind how meat gets to our plate is certainly an emotional one. I can assure you it is for us as well as we care deeply for our buffalo, respect and appreciate them for their gifts and do everything we can to ensure that they are well cared for. We field kill with a veterinarian/inspector onsite, thus minimizing their stress and release of hormones. Quite simply-this is the only way we can keep our farm and continue to live this fairytale life. When the time comes to sell our "castle" I will always know that we have done a good thing, met some of the most wonderful people in the world, and raised my family in an environment that is healthy, happy and honest.

zzgoeb 8 years, 9 months ago

Kudos to the LJ World for sharing this story about a great local couple that are doing their part to provide us with excellent, wholesome meat for the table! I've been eating bison for 20plus years now, and other than an occasional good beef bundle from a family herd, will chose no other red meat. We met Terri last year at the Farmer's market in Lawrence when we first moved here. Her herd is now our exclusive source of bison. We visited their farm last fall, and it is well-run, healthy spread.

Our kids love it bison, and we share with friends who also rave about it's taste. I believe that bison has less fat than chicken and fish, and more protein. It is also ok for those with heart conditions that can not eat beef. As Terri said, check the growers site for more details. Best of all, buff are God's meat, a wild animal raised in captivity..

As for divingdiva, eat your factory-raised chicken, and leave the bison for me!!!

suzy 8 years, 9 months ago

Thank you Terri and Family! My husband and I have been buying your ground bison weekly for a couple of years now. We love the lean meat and the rich flavor! Even though the meat is full of flavor, we chop up fresh jalapenos and garlic, add a little w-sauce, and fire up the grill--yummy!

I hope other people reading this article can respect what this family does day in and day out. Sustaining a farm of any kind is certainly no "fairytale"!

HW 8 years, 9 months ago

If you like to add a little fat to the burger for cooking purposes, try adding ground pork instead of ground beef. It adds some great flavor.

kcmetro 8 years, 9 months ago

God gives you Bison, make Bison Burgers...

kcmetro 8 years, 9 months ago

Its ok though if you are hungry enough.

kcmetro 8 years, 9 months ago

One time my rugby team plane crashed and I tell you what I was so hungry I could eat just about anything.....

ivalueamerica 8 years, 9 months ago

Speaking of unusual meats, I have grown quite fond of eating CUY in Peru (guniea pig), alpaca is very good too.

James Bennett 8 years, 9 months ago

Oh, you people.

(I'm watching the comment count run up in the database in real time, and I don't think it's ever gone this fast or this furious)

Commenting has been disabled for this item.

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