February 14, 2008

Dark Days Challenge Week 6: Grilled Bison, Colcannon, and Roasted Beet Salad


A true Valentines Day feast. Those are the same flowers from last week's dinner party, just barely holding on. I'm such a weirdo environmentalist and frugalist that I didn't even want my boyfriend to bother getting new flowers, organic or not. I just wanted him home for a great dinner.

We picked up bison from Elk Trails Farm at the Union Square Greenmarket last Saturday with the plan of cooking it for V-Day. "Oh yeah, I had grilled bison last night," I can just imagine myself saying tomorrow. Doesn't that just sound so cool? I did some research online and read that good cuts of bison, such as rib eye, strip, or tenderloin, can be grilled straight off with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper. But lesser cuts like flank steak, which we bought pretty much because it was cheaper than better cuts, are best marinated for at least 6 hours before grilling. I didn't have any wine, so I improvised a marinade of: 1 1/2 tbsp balsamic vinegar, 1 tbsp mustard, 3 tbsp water, 1/2 tsp fresh lemon juice, 2 minced garlic cloves, and plenty of fresh ground pepper. Elk Trails sells their bison frozen, so I let it defrost overnight in a water bath in the fridge and then left it in the marinade in the fridge throughout the work day.


We are lucky enough to have a grill on our miniscule deck, and it wasn't freezing tonight, so Jesse grilled the bison. "Not too long," I warned him. Bison is so lean that you have to be careful not to cook it too hot or too long, because there's not enough fat in it to slow down the cooking. My research also warned us to turn the bison on the grill using tongs, not a fork, because piercing it lets out its vital juices. Well, with my advice, Jesse cooked it perfectly. I've never been one for steak - I always find it too tough and tedious to chew, even when on the rare side. But this bison steak was delicious, tender, and lean. I'm glad that our experiment into bison, and my first time marinating steak, was a success. On the side, we enjoyed colcannon and a salad of roasted beets over mixed greens dressed with splashes of balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and lemon juice. A yummy, healthy, and guilt free meal worthy of a special night like tonight.

So take a chance and try bison, the other red meat, the one you forget exists. I was intimidated and had passed Elk Trails stand dozens of time in the past, but now I've seen the light, and I look forward to more bison to come in my life.

PS. I remember having a conversation with some people earlier this week about how it's hard to eat local in the winter because so little is available. Not in New York City - are you kidding me? I feel filled with an amazing sense of possibility even at Union Square in the winter. Check out this handy dandy guide for which vendors are there when from New York Magazine.

All ingredients for this meal were found at Greenmakets from farms within approximately 250 miles away, except except for balsamic vinegar, mustard, olive oil, lemon, salt, and pepper. Oh and the organic mixed greens from California I could have done without, but Jesse requested them, and I obliged to make him happy on this romantic occasion.

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