Top Pick Of The Week

June 20, 2006
Updated May 2011

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Strip Steak
A bison strip steak almost is indistinguishable from beef, but you’ll notice a lack of marbling. When you bite into it, you’ll experience a sweeter meat flavor that’s cleaner-tasting because there’s so little fat to get in the way of the meat—and it’s more tender, too. Photo by David G. Freud | IST.
WHAT IT IS: Organic-raised bison meat—in cuts to please every meat-lover and suit every recipe.
WHY IT’S DIFFERENT: Flavorful, healthy, lower in fat and cholesterol than beef. 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.

Blackwing Bison Meat:
Home On The Range

CAPSULE REPORT: If you’re looking for something exciting in red meat, we’ve found it: Blackwing bison. Bison has less fat and fewer calories than skinless, white meat chicken and an exquisitely fresh, clean red meat flavor. For red meat lovers, it’s a diet delight; for people who merely seek delicious food, bison from a top producer is a revelation. From Blackwing Quality Meats, it’s organic, too. We’ve had bison from other producers and are thrilled to the hoof by how remarkably tender and sweet Blackwing is. Even THE NIBBLE’s executive chef, who has cooked his share of bison, was wowed—he actually wrote a fan letter to the Blackwing folks.

We had Blackwing burgers, tenderloin and New York strip steak, all so magnificent that we lamented when the last bites were gone. With numerous cuts from back ribs to flank steak, bison can be slow-cooked. But the tender cuts are for rare-meat lovers. They’re so lean, they can’t be cooked beyond medium-rare or they become dry. Cooked rare, they’re a rare treat indeed. Read the full review below. For the difference between buffalo and bison, click here.

UPDATE 2009: This product was formerly certified Glatt Kosher. However, the company has since discontinued kosher certification.

  • For more of our favorite meats reviewed in THE NIBBLE online magazine, click here.
  • For the table of contents of the June issue of THE NIBBLE, plus the back issues archive and our most popular articles, click here.
  • All prior issues of the Top Pick Of The Week newsletter are archived here.
THE NIBBLE does not sell the food products we review or receive fees from manufacturers for recommending them. Our recommendations are based purely on our opinion, after tasting thousands of products each year, that they represent the best in their categories.

Books For Meat-Lovers

The Complete Meat Cookbook How To Cook Meat Healthy Beef Cookbook
The Complete Meat Cookbook, by Bruce Aidells and Denis Kelly. A superb reference book, an essential for any kitchen. It includes everything you want to know about meats: where the cuts come from, what cooking method they’re best suited for, how to carve, et al. Click here for more information or to purchase. How to Cook Meat, by Christopher Schlesinger and John Willoughby. From another great educator, this enjoyable book explores in great detail everything you need to know about beef, veal, lamb and pork: which cuts to buy, what cooking methods suit each, how to judge doneness, and much, much more. Click here for more information or to purchase. The Healthy Beef Cookbook. The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and the American Dietetic Association have gotten together to show health-conscious cooks exciting new ways to use lean beef. More than 130 delicious, nutritious recipes that call for one of the 22 cuts of beef that meet government guidelines for lean labeling. Click here for more information or to purchase.


This is Page 1 of a three-page article. Click on the black links to visit other pages.


Home On The Range: Blackwing Bison

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 red 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.

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 Blackwing Quality Meats, which is the equivalent of discussing beef from Niman Ranch. 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 Blackwing, whose bison is served in some of America’s finest restaurants.

Deluxe Bison Burger
Our bison burger was so delicious—refreshing and healthy-tasting—that we vowed never to return to beef. We felt the same about our tenderloin and our New York strip steak. Photo by Craig Holmes.

In terms of the flavor of Blackwing 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 rare 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).

An ocean, two continents and an entire species! There have never been buffalo in the New World and there is no “American buffalo”—only a lot of misattributed bison.
Read the details, then spread the word.

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. (Click here for 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.

Continue To Page 2: Bison Meat Overview


Bison In Steaks, Roasts, Ground Meat
and Other Cuts

Certified USDA Organic

  • Bison Sample Package: Total 6 Pounds
    A Great Way To Sample Everything

    2 eight-ounce strip loins
    2 eight-ounce rib-eyes
    1 pound ground meat
    1 pound ground patties
    1 twelve-ounce filet chunks
    1 eight-ounce package Philly cheesesteak meat
    1 twelve-ounce package hot dogs
    (Regular $75.89 value)
  • All products mentioned in the article are sold
    individually, along with numerous other cuts. Visit the company web site.

Purchase online at
or telephone 1.847.838.4888

*Prices and product availability are verified at publication but are subject to change. Shipping is additional. These items are offered by a third party and THE NIBBLE has no relationship with them.


We were thrilled with the beautiful tenderloins, above, and our New York strip steaks, below.

New York Strip Steaks

Prices and product availability are verified at publication but are subject to change.


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ABOUT THE NIBBLE. THE NIBBLE, Great Food Finds, is an online magazine about specialty foods and the gourmet life. It is the only consumer publication and website that focuses on reviewing the best specialty foods and beverages, in every category. The magazine also covers tabletop items, gourmet housewares, and other areas of interest to people who love fine food.

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