Bison Red Sauce

One of my most fondest and vivdest memories I have of my grandmother is her making a meat sauce to go over pasta.

A little straight up Polish lady who made pasta and red sauce often.  Her pasta of choice was rigatonis or “sewer pipes” as she called them.

Not the most attractive nickname, I know, but they are big pasta tubes so it makes sense.

The house always smelled so amazing with the sauce simmering away and it made the atmosphere warm and inviting.

Whenever I smell a similiar red pasta sauce, it brings me right back to my Grandma’s house and her telling us that sewer pipes were for dinner.

I was feeling very nostalgic one evening and decided to create my own.

Andrea’s Bison Red Sauce

  • 1lb Ground Bison (Can use beef if you cannot get bison)
  • 3/4 Large Onion, chunked
  • 1 Green Pepper, chunked
  • 1 Red Pepper, chunked
  • 2 Cloves of Garlic
  • 1 28oz Can of Crushed Tomatoes
  • 1 15oz Can of Tomato Sauce
  • 1 14.5oz Can of Diced Tomatoes
  • 1 6oz Can of Tomato Paste
  • 1C Red Wine
  • 1C Beef Stock
  • Big Pinch of Red Pepper Flakes
  • 2TBSP of Italian Seasoning
  • 1tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1TBSP Worcestershire Sauce
  • Pinch of salt and pepper
  • 2 TBSP Olive Oil

In a food processor, combine onion, garlic, and peppers and pulse until finely chopped.  In a large soup pot, add in 1TBSP of olive oil and heat over medium heat.  Add in the bison and cook for about two to three minutes, just to get some color on the meat.  Remove from pan and drain if there’s a lot of liquid in the pan.  If not, add in remaining 1TBSP of oil and the chopped veggies.

Sprinkle veggies with salt, pepper and red pepper flakes.   Saute for about five minutes, stirring occasionally.  Let the veggies start to soften and reduce the amount of moisture they have.  Add bison back in along with the tomato paste.  Combine and saute for about 3-5 minutes.  Add in the red wine and scrape up any bits on the bottom of the pan.  Cook for about 2-3 minutes.  Add in the other tomato products at this point.  Combine. Add in the Italian seasoning, garlic powder, and worcestershire sauce.  Combine and then add in the beef stock.  Gently combine and bring mixture up to a simmer.

Simmer sauce for 45 minutes to an hour, stirring occasionally.

Remove from heat and serve over pasta.

Oh this sauce!  It was just how I hoped it would turn out.  It’s a thick and rich meaty sauce perfect for a hearty pasta and scooping up with garlic bread.

This makes a good bit of sauce so you’ll have plenty leftover for freezing.

You can stick with rigatonis or branch out and use a ribbon style pasta.

We also had this over some fettucini and it worked beautifully!

This summer when I can get some fresh tomatos, I’m definitely making this again.  For the time being the canned tomatoes worked well.

Have fun guys, and remember, always play with your food!  Enjoy!

Fajita Burgers

It’s mid August and this is the first burger I’ve had this summer.  And it wasn’t even grilled because the day we had them, it was pouring rain.

This is unacceptable and I aim to change this situation soon.

I’m not much of a straight up burger girl.  I like things in my burgers, on top of my burgers, and all around my burgers.  I like burgers with flavor and little surprises along the way.

I don’t really care for just a generic patty because that’s no fun and I like to play with my food!

I had some bison that needed used up and decided to see if I could make a fajita style burger.  That is, I wanted a burger that reflected some of the flavors you would find in a fajita.

This burger turned out really great tasting for a first experiment.  I have a few tweaks I’d like to make to it, but it’s a lovely burger perfect for a relaxing weekend BBQ.

Andrea’s Fajita Burgers

  • 1lb Ground Bison (you pick the cut)
  • 1/2 Green Pepper, finely chopped
  • 1/2 Medium Onion, finely chopped
  • 1TBSP Tomato Paste
  • Big Pinch Red Pepper Flakes
  • Salt and pepper, pinch
  • 1/2tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1/2tsp Chili Powder
  • 1/2tsp Smoked Paprika
  • A good dose of hot sauce
  • 4TBSP of a Summer Ale
  • Olive Oil for sauteeing

In a large glass mixing bowl add in the ground bison.  In a medium sized skillet, heat olive oil (about 1/2 TBSP) over medium-high heat. Add in the peppers and onions and stir.  Sautee for about 3 minutes.  Add in the seasonings, the tomato paste, the hot sauce, and the beer.  Stir, and allow to sautee for about 2-3 minutes.  Remove from heat and allow to cool for about 5-7 minutes.  Add this mixture in with the bison.  Gently combine and then form into patties.  This will make four patties.

Place patties on a plate, cover, and refridgerate for a couple of hours. This allows the flavors to develop and the burgers to set up.

In a large skillet, add in some olive oil (about 2 TBSP), and heat over medium heat.  Gently place burgers in skillet and cook on each side for around 5 minutes.  Remove and serve immediately.

You are free to cook these burgers how you like and I would highly recommend grilling them if you have the chance.  The smokiness will help provide a more of a fajita type of flavor.

You can also cook the burgers to your preferred doness.  We like things about medium to medium-well over here at the HQ.

The type of ground meat you use is completely optional, pick what you like!  It would work just as well with chicken, turkey, or beef.

Because these were mimicking flavors you would find with a typical fajita I used fresh sliced tomatoes, pepperjack cheese, and avocado to go with the burgers. I sliced the tomatoes earlier and put them in the fridge to chill and get super cold.

I also topped them with the pickled jalapeno and red onions.

Both of us really enjoyed these burgers a great deal and Scott kept mumbling while he was eating.  This is a sure sign that he is pleased with something.

The cold tomato, avocado, and crisp pickled veggies made for a wonderful contrast to the hot burger and spicy cheese.

That was my favorite part about eating these burgers, the dueling temperatures.  They were also super messy to eat which makes them even more fun!

The beer I used was a 2011 Summerfest by Sierra Nevada.  It’s a great summer beer! Light but still full bodied and complex enough to pair well with BBQ flavors.

Have fun guys, and remember, always play with your food!  Enjoy!

Thoughts on Bison Steaks

It’s Scott’s birthday week, so this means we get to eat some super special meals.  One of the things Scott wanted for sure was some steak.  We don’t eat red meat often, not because we think it’s The Devil Meat but just because we don’t eat all that much meat in general.  Everything in moderation, ya know.

When my husband asks for something he gets it or at least I try my best to provide it for him.  We were at the butcher and none of their steaks looked very appealing.  I felt really awful having to tell Scott that none of the steak was worth purchasing.  He explained that he understood as the meat didn’t look too nice and it was no big deal.

I, however, was totally bummed.

We moved on to another butcher, one who provides bison (buffalo) meats and they just happened to have some bison steaks on sale.  Both of us have only ever had ground bison so steaks seemed intriguing!  We bought two and brought those little babies home with us.

I originally had plans of grilling them even during our nasty-ass, most awesome winter weather we are currently having.  However, by the time we were ready to eat it was too dark outside to bust open the grill.  If we had better backyard lighting we might have pushed on through.

I handled these steaks the way I handle all steaks, which is by covering them liberally with a dry rub and letting them hang out in the fridge for several hours.  The dry rub I used on these steaks was pretty basic:

  • Pinch brown sugar
  • Garlic powder
  • Chili powder
  • Ground mustard
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Cayenne
  • Red pepper flakes

Brown sugar is key (and I stated as much in my dry rub post) because it helps provide a really nice crust on the steaks when they cook.  That goes for either grilling, broiling, or skillet cooking.  You don’t need a lot, just a touch will do.

Since we weren’t able to grill, I did the next best thing and seared them in a very hot skillet.  I removed them, added a bit of red wine and chicken stock to the pan and scraped up the brown bits.  Added the steaks back in and tossed into the oven at 400 where they finished cooking.

I really couldn’t have been more pleased with the way these steaks looked because for a cut of meat, they are gorgeous.  I wondered how they would differ from regular steaks and I was surprised to learn that they are completely different.

Just handling the steak as I was applying the rub, I noticed how much softer and juicer this steak was.  It caused me to be a bit more gentle with the handling because I didn’t want it to tear or possibly alter the texture in any way.  There was a strip of fat running along the back and I could have easily pulled that off without a problem.  There’s no way you are doing that with a regular steak!  I left the fat on for cooking purposes.

The steaks seared and browned up a lot quicker than a regular steak which sort of caught me off guard.  They also cooked a lot quicker.  Admittedly, I did over cook these just a tad and cursed myself properly for it too.

Thankfully these steaks are really forgiving!  We don’t like rare meat and I will only eat steak if the brown outnumbers the pink.  If it’s pink I won’t touch it.  I usually take our steaks to just shy of well.  I pulled these out a bit sooner than that but they were still a tad overcooked.   These babies cook super fast!  Like I said, they were very forgiving and even despite my blunder, they were juicy and delish.

We weren’t chewing on them forever and they were not tough.  In fact, I’m not sure I could go back to a regular old cow steak after this experience.  Bison steaks are a whole other level and taste so much better than beef.

While I would agree that ground bison is similar to ground beef in taste, bison steaks are nowhere near the same as beef steaks.  Bison steaks are the lobster and champagne crowd, while beef steaks are all you can eat at The Sizzler, if you get my point.

Bison steaks are more expensive, but are definitely worth the indulgence every once in a while.  They are tender, juicy, and quick cooking.  They have way more flavor than a regular steak.

We for sure will be getting some more steaks this summer that we can grill!  I don’t know about Mr. Cow though, he might be just reserved for the occasional roast.

If you’ve never had bison steaks before give them a go!  Four thumbs up from the staff at the HQ!

Bison steaks purchased from North Market Poultry and Game located in The North Market.