When Wandering Chopsticks picked America as the next region for Regional Recipes, I was really interested to see what people would come up with. I asked my husband and in-laws (who are Danish) what comes to mind when they think of American food and the unanimous answer was burgers. Not surprising, considering McD0n@ld’s global empire and their quest for total world domination. It's just sad that, to the rest of the world, this company is the face of American food.
Since the rest of the world seems to think all we eat here in America are burgers (and big steaks), I thought I'd do a little post on burgers. I know what you're thinking: Who wants to read a post about making burgers? Yawn. Do bear with me though. I might be able to spark a little interest yet.
At the last PDX Women Chefs and Restaurateurs meeting, I met the lovely Bev who, with her husband Steve, own Powell Butte Bison Ranch. We had only a little time to chit-chat before the meeting, but before I left I took several pages of information about the ranch, the animals and the owners. As I was reading Steve’s statement explaining why he decided to pursue his dream of having a bison ranch, I was struck by a phrase he used: America’s original red meat…
Something about that phrase just struck me. America's original red meat. In other words, a truly American food. Yet, I'd never even tasted bison before!
The bison raised at Powell Butte Bison Ranch are 100% grass-fed. The meat is also USDA inspected, which insures you are getting a safe, properly handled product.
Until very recently, I knew nothing of bison, except that it sustained Native Americans during a time when both they and the animals lived freely across North America. But that seemed like a long-gone era. I’d never considered bison a modern day food. I guess I should have been paying more attention because bison is making a comeback. After doing a little research and sampling the meat, I’m a believer. Not only does it have a robust flavor not completely different from beef, but it’s healthier. For starters, it’s a lot leaner and has less cholesterol. Since bison are almost always grass-fed (or primarily grass-fed then finished on grain), the meat is packed with nutrients from its green diet. Naturally raising these animals also means no hormones or antibiotics often found in conventionally raised cattle.
And did I mention it’s got a wonderful flavor? I don’t know why I expected it would taste gamey, but it didn’t at all. Because bison is lean, I was afraid the burgers would be dry, but they weren't. There were some suggestions about adding in some extra fat by mixing in some cheese or additional oil into the ground meat. While these are good suggestions, I’m pretty much a purist when it comes to burger preparation. All I ever add is salt (don’t be skimpy!), pepper and a few healthy splashes of Lea and Perrins, then grill or fry until medium. That’s it. I’ve found this minimalist approach makes the simplest, most delicious burgers, whether beef, lamb or bison.
If you’re interested in purchasing 100% grass-fed bison raised right here in Oregon , I encourage you to contact Powell Butte Bison Ranch at firstname.lastname@example.org. They will gladly give you more information about their bison, how they sell it (quantity, pricing, time of year, etc) and the other products they offer.
I'm submitting this post to Regional Recipes, where the spotlight is on American food. The hosts this time are the girls behind [eatingclub]vancouver. Check their blog on the 20th of this month for the round-up. It will be interesting to see the different submissions, although I wouldn't be surprised if there are more than a couple burgers :-)