Have you ever noticed that soon after learning a new word, or becoming interested in the latest subject matter, you begin to see signs of that new thing everywhere? You overhear people talking about it. Read a headline focusing on it. See a photo of it on the side of a bus. You do a double take–did everyone know about this thing but me?
Sometimes finding a new ingredient is like that, too. You become excited about the item–feeling uniquely able to uncover the ingredient’s culinary possibilities–only to discover everyone around you talking about how they ate it, cooked it, or shopped for it. You realize you’re not alone in your discovery. Either everyone else has just learned about The New Great Ingredient, or your culinary discovery is more a coming-to-your-senses moment.
Bison is my New Great Ingredient. After a lifetime of never cooking, eating, or even seeing bison, I suddenly see signs of bison everywhere. There are bison burgers on the menus of burger joints all over Los Angeles. Iron Chef’s battle with bison as their secret ingredient. Bison vendors sell their vacuum packed meat to lines of dedicated farmers’ market customers. Magazine articles extol the virtues of bison’s low fat, high-protein nutrition profile. Though bison may be one of America’s original meat sources, the industry seems to be breaking through to a nation of meat eaters like me, that are interested in healthier and low-fat alternatives.
Suddenly, I’m very interested in bison. And to tell you the truth, I’m craving the stuff.
Lindner Bison is owned and run by a passionate husband and wife team who left the corporate world to raise grass fed, free range, all natural bison in Northern California. Their dedication for bringing a healthy alternative to beef to the market can be witnessed by the enthusiastic (and growing) line of customers that visit their market stall or place their order on the phone every week.
Low in fat, high in protein, and high in Omega 3’s bison meat is flavorful, lean, easy to digest, and is incredibly tasty. Unlike beef, however, bison requires a touch of finesse to bring out the best in the meat. When it comes to cooking bison, it’s important to remember the maxim: “sear on high, then low and slow“.
With the days growing colder and colder, the following Bon Appetit recipe for Coffee Marinated Bison Short Ribs is a perfect introduction to the glories of eating bison. The dish is warm and comforting with complex flavors of coffee, spice, and generous mouthfuls of succulent meat (that’s dramatically lower in fat than beef short ribs!).
Coffee Marinated Bison Short Ribs
Adapted from the February 2008 Bon Appetit
If you allow for a little planning, this is an incredibly easy and delicious recipe you’ll want to make again and again. Marinate the shortribs over night or start it first thing when you wake up, the day you’re plan to make the short ribs.
* 4 cups water
* 3 cups chilled strong brewed coffee
* 1/2 cup coarse kosher salt
* 3 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons (packed) dark brown sugar
* 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
* 2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
* 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
* 2 cups ice cubes
* 4 pounds bison (often labeled buffalo) short ribs, cut between ribs to separate
* 1/4 cup chopped bacon (about 1 1/2 ounces)
* 2 cups chopped onions
* 1/2 cup chopped shallots
* 6 garlic cloves, chopped
* 1 tbsp Siracha chili sauce
* 1 cup strong brewed coffee
* 1 cup low-salt chicken broth
* 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
* 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
* 1 tablespoon soy sauce
Stir 4 cups water, coffee, 1/2 cup coarse salt, and sugar in large bowl until salt and sugar dissolve. Add syrup and next 3 ingredients; stir until ice melts. Add ribs.
For short ribs:
Preheat oven to 325°F. Sauté bacon in heavy large wide ovenproof pot over medium heat until beginning to brown. Using slotted spoon, transfer bacon to plate. Increase heat to medium-high. Sprinkle ribs with salt and pepper. Working in batches, cook ribs until browned on all sides, about 7 minutes per batch. Transfer to large plate.
Add onions, shallots, garlic, and Siracha to pot. Reduce heat to medium, cover, and cook until vegetables are soft, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes.
Add coffee and broth; stir, scraping up browned bits. Add chili sauce and all remaining ingredients; bring to boil. Add bacon and ribs, cover, and transfer to oven. Braise until meat is tender, about 2 hours 15 minutes. DO AHEAD: Can be made 2 days ahead. Cool slightly. Chill uncovered until cold, then cover and keep chilled. Rewarm in 325°F oven until heated through, about 20 minutes, before continuing.
Transfer ribs to plate; tent with foil to keep warm. Spoon fat from surface of sauce. Boil sauce until reduced to 2 cups, about 5 minutes. Pour sauce over ribs.
I suggest serving this with a simple mash of potatoes or butternut squash and some root vegetables.
The coffee notes of this lush grenache, syrah, and mourvèdre blend is a spectacular pairing for the dark, java-infused flavors of the bison short ribs. Black fruit, coffee, spice and perfectly balanced fruit and acidity sing harmonious notes with the base line of earthy meat (with a touch of rich fat) of the spotlighted short ribs.
If you can’t find this wine (I found my bottle at the Wine House in Los Angeles), seek out a good Côtes du Rhone (grenache/syrah/mouvedre) for your dinner (be sure the bottle is the right temperature—cool to the touch!) and be prepared to be blown away by an incredible symphony of flavors. This was one of the most inspired wine pairings I’ve experienced in some time!