Top Pick Of The Week

June 20, 2006
Updated July 2021

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Buffalo Burger
Enjoy a bison burger—improperly called a buffalo burger—medium rare. Photo by Tanya F | IST.
WHAT IT IS: Bison meat—in cuts to please every meat-lover and suit every recipe.
WHY IT’S DIFFERENT: Flavorful and healthy: Just as there are better producers of beef, Blackwing Quality Meats is a top producer of bison. The difference shows in every bite.
WHY WE LOVE IT: Bison doesn’t weigh us down the way that beef does. It’s a delight of a red meat, so tasty yet healthy-feeling that it’s an eye-opener. It even “cooks clean”: because there’s so little fat, grilling a steak indoors provides no heavy “meat cooking” odor.

Bison Meat (Don’t Call It Buffalo Meat)
Page 2: Bison Burgers & More

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About Bison Meat

Bison is a magnificent, healthy red meat with all of the flavor and texture of beef, but none of the heaviness. It is richer in protein, yet far lower in fat, calories and cholesterol. In fact, bison has less calories and fat than skinless chicken or turkey, and even some fish. 

Bison tastes like a cousin of beef, much like farm-raised venison, a cousin from the other side of the family. Think of the difference between red Bordeaux and Burgundy wines. They’re both from the well-bred side of the big French red wine family. If you like one, you’ll probably like the other.

It’s the same with bison and beef. Some say that beef tastes richer, because they consider that the fat adds richness and flavor. We know that fat is a flavor-enhancer, and the heavily marbled cuts of beef are more expensive because they’re tastier.


The review continues below.



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Bison Meat, Continued

Others will say that bison, on the lean side, puts one’s taste buds closer to the richer, fuller flavor of the meat.

The proof is in the tasting, but one thing to clarify up-front is that bison is not in any way gamy. Rather, it is more elegant in flavor and more tender (far less fibrous in texture) than beef; the meat has what many call a “sweeter” taste.

We must digress for a moment and state that we are talking about bison from quality purveys such as Allen Brothers, Blackwing Quality Meats, High Plains Bison.

As with any type of product, there are the great producers and the less great. We have purchased other bison at our local market, and have eaten bison burgers at restaurants, that were not related in any way to the outstanding products produced by these producers, whose bison is served in some of America’s finest restaurants.

Bison Ribeye Steak
A bison ribeye steak. Photo courtesy

In the scramble to get more bison into the meat case, retailers are scrambling. The best bison goes to the best stores. Other meat can be average at best. Don’t blame it on the bison category; buy the best meat you can find.

In terms of the flavor of top-quality bison, we fall into the camp that finds great bison a superior experience to great beef—but we like our meat very rare, and here bison shines. It shines triply in our book because we don’t like fat or chewy meat, either.

Thus, we found our first quality experience, with rare-cooked Blackwing bison, to be a practically elevating red meat experience. Our thick tenderloin, seared for just two minutes on each side, was as robust as any hunk of red meat yet with complex flavor nuances, juicy with substantive texture. The strip steak was equally splendid, and the burgers were the best we can remember (we recall murmuring in our tasting ecstasy that we’d never eat anything but Blackwing bison burgers again; but we’ve since found other good brands).

To what do we owe this seductive bison flavor? The bison graze on grass, and they are all raised naturally, without hormones or antibiotics.

Blackwing’s herd is also USDA-certified organic, which means, among other things, that no pesticides have been used on the pasture. (Get more information about organic certification.) And the meat is very tasty to begin with. The reason we haven’t been eating bison since childhood is that (as every school child learns) the herds were driven to near-extinction at the end of the 19th century. The combined healthy-eating and gourmet-cuisine movements of the last twenty years identified bison as a choice option, and spurred an investment in bison ranching.

Cuts That Melt In Your Mouth

We feasted on tenderloin, strip steak and burgers. However you prefer your bison/buffalo meat, Blackwing Bison can supply just about every cut:

  • Back ribs
  • Eye of round roast
  • Filet chunks (cut from strip loin)
  • Flank steak (grilled, seared or for stir fry)
  • Ground (in bulk or patties)
  • New York strip steak
  • Oxtail (for soup or stew)
  • Ribeye steak
  • Rocky mountain oysters
  • Short ribs
  • Sirloin
  • Skirt steak
  • Stew meat
  • Tenderloin
  • Tongue

Filet Mignon
Our tenderloin of bison was so exquisite that we ate it very rare with no embellishment—like a perfect piece of tuna, barely seared, that requires no sauce or seasoning. However, if you’re planning a special event, it dresses just like beef tenderloin.

Continue To Page 3: Bison Nutrition

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