The Honestly Better Bison: A healthier summer grilling choice

Bison meat from Honest Bison is leaner than beef, it's rich in protein, iron, zinc, vitamin B12 and other nutrients. So why wouldn't you choose this protein?

Honest Bison tri-trip - Image: Jacquie Kubin for
Honest Bison tri-trip - Image: Jacquie Kubin for

WASHINGTON, June 27, 2016 – Whether 100 percent grass-fed or grain-finished, bison meat is leaner than beef, it’s rich in protein, iron, zinc, vitamin B12 and other nutrients. Furthermore for a person adhering to a 2,000 calories per day diet,  a 3-ounce serving of bison meat contains 48 percent of the daily value for protein, 3 percent of the DV for fat and 4 percent of the DV for saturated fat, 122 calories, 24.2 grams of protein and 2.1 grams of fat, including just 0.8 gram of saturated fat.

So why wouldn’t you choose bison over beef?

Most likely it is because you don’t know where or how to buy this choice meat. But there are plenty of fine purveyors like Honest Bison that will allow you to purchase this history rich protein.  Bison and cattle have some obvious comparisons, but it is where they part that is most interesting.

Bison are still a wild animal meaning that they have not been bred as protein, like cattle, and this keeps the animal trim and muscular

“If you are a bison your instinct is that you need to avoid predator animals, run fast and stay warm,” said Sean Lenihan, founder of Honest Bison “So you are not going to carry fat in the muscle that needs to propel you. For the consumer of bison, this also helps with the nutritional value with increased protein per ounce. A 3.5 oz bison has 30g of protein while the beef only has 20g.”

The flavor is not far off a very high-quality, grass fed sirloin but it very different.  The color, a deep almost aubergine is due to the absence of unhealthy fat and higher levels of healthy Omega 3 fats.  The animals muscle structure keeps the animals leaner than cattle without the internal fat, or marbling.

“It’s a noticeable difference, ” says Dave Carter, executive director of the National Bison Association. “Put two similar cuts next to one another and the bison steak will be darker red, because it’s leaner.”

Bison are champion grazers, finding grass even beneath feet of snow.  Not finishing the bison in a corn feed lot keeps the meat lean and flavorful, but unlike ‘game’ meats like deer, it does not have the “gamey” taste that some find unpalatable.

“Most people believe that all bison is grass fed their entire life, and not part of the factory farm structure that includes those final few months in a fed lot that work against the production of a healthy, lean protein,” Lenihan says. “However a vast majority of all bison harvested have gone through the fed lot. The bison I sell is 100% grass fed. No corn, grains or soy.”

Lenihan sources Honest Bison from ranchers that are based in north west Wisconsin, as well as a network of ranchers, Minnesota and North Dakota.  “Bison live and thrive in all 50 states,” says Lenihan.

“Our bison is ranched in Wisconsin where they live naturally, 100% grassfed,  humanely and sustainably raised,” Lenihan says . “Quite simply,  if I would not feed it to my family and friends, I would not feed it to you either.”

Cooking bison does require a different method than beef.  The lack of fat that keeps beef tender means it is important to not overcook bison and the rule of 10 applies, meaning that if you seek your meat rare (suggested) take it off the fire at 110, loosely cover with foil and let it sit for 10 minutes, during which it will continue to cook, reaching that 140 degrees necessary for rare meet.

Cooking the tri-trip roast, I followed the recipe suggestions at Honest Bison, using a rub on the meat and letting it sit to room temperature before searing on a hot grill until evenly browned.  Placing the roast into a deep glass pyrex baking dish that was pre-seasoned with olive oil, garlic, rosemary and a sprinkle of sea salt.

While Honest Bison suggest’s finishing the roast at 300 for 20 minutes, or until internal temperature is reached. If given the opportunity to make this again, I would reduce the heat to 225, tent the roast and watch it very carefully. Adding a small amount of beef bone broth  to the bottom of the dish (do not pour over as the process of evaporation will pull moisture out of the roast) will add a gentle steam that will help tenderize the roast.

That bone broth and any leavings in the baking dish should be transferred to a small pan, adding more broth and a nice hearty red wine, reducing to a thick, shiny jus.  Strain before drizzling over thick slices of meat, cut on the bias and garnished with sprigs of rosemary.  Serve with smashed red potato (boil small red potatoes until fork tender but still firm.

Place in backing dish and smash just once (retaining a smashed shape) drizzle with good quality olive oil, sea salt, white pepper, chopped garlic and herbs to flavor) and place in over with roast until skins are slightly crispy.

The bison on bone in rib-eye was exceptionally good.  A large piece of meat, it served two with some left over. The absolute leanness of the bison, in any cut, means that significantly less protein is needed per serving. It is very satisfying, both in taste and fulfillment.

Here is their recipe – the only change I made to it, I started it, like the roast, on the grill.

Honest Bison Bone In Rib Eye Image: Jacquie Kubin for
Honest Bison Bone In Rib Eye Image: Jacquie Kubin for

Seared Bison Tomahawk Steak Recipe:

1 grassfed bison tomahawk steak (Get yours here!)

Kosher salt

Freshly cracked pepper

2 tbsp. canola oil (Or oil of your choice)

4 tbsp. butter (Grassfed is always best!)

2 sprigs of fresh thyme


Generously salt and pepper bison steak on both sides. Let meat come to room temperature.

Heat a large cast-iron skillet or griddle over high heat.

Add oil and heat until smoking.

Sear steak on one side until golden brown, about 3 minutes.

Turn steak over and continue cooking.

Add butter and fresh thyme to pan.

Baste steak with foaming butter mixture and cook until internal temperature is 120 degrees. (Use an instant read thermometer to keep from overcooking the meat.)

Allow steak to rest 10 minutes before serving.

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