Bison Steak is gaining traction as the new red meat. Back in January of 2009, during my first visit to Chicago’s MK Restaurant I had Chef Erik Williams bison for the first time. Back then it was quite rare to see such an item on a mainstream restaurant menu. But as is typically the case restaurants typically lead the way when it comes to food trends. Today you can find bison meat (steaks and ground) in most mainstream grocery stores and definitely at Butcher Sops if you’re lucky to have one in your local area.
I’m a huge fan of the “non-traditional” in general whether its food or activities/sports. Yes in addition to watching football and hoops, I’m that black guy that watches hockey, lacrosse, and rugby on TV. This behavior/interest stems primarily from my maternal grandfather who I would describe as an original. Being raised by grandparents, particular a grandfather such as mine was quite the benefit. You do and learn a lot of cool stuff and always when you don’t expect it. At the end of the day, he essentially showed me the way…
I remember as a five year old returning home with Pops from a unplanned trip to the auto store. Pops had to replace the alternator on Madear’s Buick which was going to set us back some. We were in his pickup a few blocks from the house when he abruptly but cool pulled over, stopped the truck and grabbed his shotgun from the window rack. Now on many occasions, I had heard Pops jokingly threaten his friends that he was “gonna bust a cap in their ass” with his shot gun, but this time was different as none of his friends were near. So pardon my confusion when Pops actually took his shotgun and busted a cap. In whose ass still wasn’t clear but when I heard the shot gun blast I then understand what busted cap sounded like. After the shot Pops walked about thirty to forty yards in the nearby field and returned holding a dead squirrel. He saw him take his knife blade from his pocket and walk to the back of the truck. My 5 year old instincts told me not to look to see what Pops was doing behind the truck, but later I did see signs that some blood was shed back in the bed of Pops pickup. Later that night there was a buzz in the house, one I wasn’t familiar with. We were near the end of the month, but due to our non-fortuitous trip to the auto store and Pops sharp peripheral vision we were having meat! God is good!
Pops took his usual big piece and in an unusual demonstration of love, my brother gave me his piece. Now at the time I didn’t know it was squirrel meat, but my big brother was sure to let me know after I had finished wolfing down both pieces. Lesson learned, beware of clowns bearing gifts. Unfortunately that wasn’t my last encounter with an old school East Texas cat randomly hunting squirrels in the city to put food on the family table. “All natural”, “hormone free”, etc. labels are all the rage now, but Pops was ahead of the game as usual lol!
Pops instilled in me that provider mentality and blessed me with a spirit of openness. I quickly moved squirrels off my food chain after that fateful day given it’s too close to the rodent family for me, but meat like bison is fair game! Besides its proximity to beef it has a great taste profile and many greater health benefits as its much leaner and lower in both cholesterol and saturated fat. Translation – it’s easier on the heart and arteries.
I treat bison as I would any lean cut of beef in terms of prep. The other added benefit of its leaness is the time required to cook. I make quick simple lunches at home featuring a grilled or pan fried protein with salad greens (I keep bagged fresh arugula and/or baby kale on hand), a simple lemon and olive oil dressing and whatever other salad fixings I have on hand. This is my go to daily salad and works with any protein whether it’s fish, shrimp, or leftover jerk chicken (see photo below). Simple, convenient, and tasty.
On this particular day I happened to have Nature Sweet cherry tomatoes on hand. I simply blistered them in a cast iron skillet on high heat and dropped them in the salad. Blasting them on high heat helps concentrate the natural sweetness of the tomatoes and makes for an interesting mouth experience as a bite into them creates a cool mini explosion.
Bison Steak Salad
- 8 oz bison sirloin steak
- 4 cups fresh bagged baby kale
- Half an avocado (cut into slices)
- 1/4 cup Red Onion (thinly sliced)
- 1 tablespoon goat cheese crumbles
- 1/4 cup cherry tomatoes (halved)
- 1 medium lemon (juiced)
- 1 tablespoon Olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon Salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Heat skillet on medium high heat. Add the cherry tomatoes and let sit for 2 minutes until they start to blister. Stir them briefly, turn off the heat, and let them sit 2 minutes more. Remove from pan
Let steak come to room temperature and pat dry with a paper towel. Season both sides of the steak with salt and pepper.
Heat skillet on high and add oil. Pan fry the steak for 2.5-3 minutes per side.
Remove steak from pan and let rest for 10 minutes.
Make the vinaigrette by mixing lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper in a bowl.
Toss the kale and red onions with the vinaigrette in a large bowl. Serve the salad in serving bowls and add sliced steak, avocado slices, and cherry tomatoes. Top with goat cheese crumbles.
This salad could be eaten meatless as a simple side or with any protein source as a main dish.