Bison is the name of the North American buffalo, Bison bison. The name is used to differentiate the American buffalo from the Asian Water buffalo and African Cape buffalo. The American buffalo is not a true buffalo, it belongs to the bovine family along with domestic cattle.
Bison differs from beef by having a deeper red color before cooking because there is no marbling (white flecks of fat within the meat muscle). Bison is said to have a sweeter, richer flavor than beef. The retail cuts of bison are similar to those of beef. Bison is much leaner that beef, having a total fat content of about 2 percent, compaired to 15 - 20 percent for beef.
Handle bison meat the same as any other type of meat. Make your selection just before checking out at the register. Put packages of raw bison in disposable plastic bags (if available) to contain any leakage which could cross contaminate cooked foods or produce. Take packaged bison home immediately and refrigerate it at 40 °F; use within 3 to 5 days, or freeze (0 °F). If kept frozen continuously, it will be safe indefinitely.
There are three ways to defrost meat: in the refrigerator, in cold water, and in the microwave. Never defrost on the counter or in other locations. It's best to plan ahead for slow, safe thawing in the refrigerator. To defrost in cold water, do not remove packaging. Be sure the package is airtight or put it into a leakproof bag. Submerge the package in cold water, changing the water every 30 minutes so it continues to thaw.
When microwave defrosting meat, plan to cook it immediately after thawing because some areas of the food may become warm and begin to cook during microwaving. Holding partially cooked food is not recommended because any bacteria present wouldn't have been destroyed.
Foods defrosted in the microwave or by the cold water method should be cooked before refreezing because they may potentially have been held at temperatures above 40 °F allowing harmful bacteria to grow.
Since it is very lean and lacks fat marbling, bison can cook faster than other red meats.
- Care should be taken to not overcook bison.
- In general, bison should be cooked using low heat (325 °F) and longer cooking times.
- Braising or other moist cooking methods are recommended for bison roasts and steaks.
- For thin-sliced bison, use quick cooking methods such as broiling and pan frying.
- For safety, cook ground bison meat to 160 °F.
- Roasts, steaks, and chops should be loosely covered with foil and braised for 1 hour; internal temperatures should read 145 °F (medium rare), 160 °F (medium), or 170 °F (well done).
- Less tender cuts should be braised (roasted or simmered with a small amount of liquid in a tightly covered pan) or stewed.