Bison is my favorite red meat. In truth, it's pretty much my only red meat. Besides I have a very good friend who raises them, so I have a dependable and excellent supply. I know exactly where and how they've been raised, and please, don't even think of questioning her sustainability ethic. I never get tired of seeing her bull Elvis standing sentry between us and the dogs and his harem.
Bison is lean, it is exceedingly tender as long as it is not overcooked. It is wildly high in protein, so you'll tend to eat less because you will feel more full and satisfied. And happy. It has a natural sweetness which my friend, Dot, believes derives from its very high iron content. It's a perfect food.
New Belgium 2 Below: I'm a long-distance bike rider. New Belgium makes my favorite pale ale, Fat Tire. 2 Below has a bit lower alcohol content than their other beers, hence the name. New Belgium's headquarters are in Fort Collins, Colorado, just up the road from my daughter in Boulder. It gives generously to environmental causes. The perfect beer for the perfect meat. The combination of a great, sustainably produced roast, some root vegetables, porcini mushrooms and their rich stock, a great beer, all combine in a beautifully earthy, warming fall to winter dinner. —boulangere
1 top sirloin bison roast, approximately 3 pounds
Sea or kosher salt and pepper
2 onions, peeled, 1” chop
3 carrots, peeled and tipped, 1” chop
4 stalks celery, trimmed, 1” chop
6 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
1 bottle New Belgium 2 Below
2 bay leaves
2 dozen fingerling potatoes, 1” chunks
Sea or kosher salt and pepper
1 teaspoon or so fresh thyme or marjoram, or some of both
In an ovenproof roasting pan, pour in enough olive oil to generously cover the bottom. Place over medium-high heat on your stove top. While pan is heating, season the top side of the roast. Use a strong fork to pick it up and place it salted side down in the hot pan. By placing the roast salted side down, the salt doesn’t have enough time to draw water out of the meat, causing it basically to poach in its own juices rather than sear and turn that beautiful brown. Don’t salt the upside until just before you turn it over to brown that side.
Meanwhile, prep the vegetables (except potatoes) and soak the dried porcini in hot water with a plate over the bowl to hold in the heat.
When both sides of the roast have seared beautifully brown, remove it to a plate or cutting board. Add all the vegetables along with a healthy pinch of salt. Sauté, stirring now and then, until they’ve softened, browned a bit, and are wonderfully fragrant. Hold a strainer over the pot and pour the mushroom liquid through, using it to deglaze the pan and draw up any browned and flavorful bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the bottle of 2 Below. It will foam up, then subside. When it reaches a good simmer, add the bay leaves, return the roast to the pan, and place the pan in the oven.
Meanwhile, in a casserole dish or baking sheet, toss the potatoes in enough olive oil to coat them, along with the salt, pepper and herbs.
Roast the bison slowly until your entire house smells begins to smell divine, which should be about the time that the roast reaches an internal temperature of about 100 degrees. At that point, put the fingerling potatoes in the oven. Continue roasting until the meat registers an internal temperature of about 125 degrees. Don’t overcook bison. The results will not be pretty.
Remove the roasting pan from the oven, tent the roast with foil, and cover with a heavy towel or two. This lets the proteins relax. They say, “Whew! That’s over!” The fluids which have been squeezed out by the stress of roasting re-inflate the cells, plumping them up and lending that wonderful, tender juiciness.
Continue roasting the potatoes until they are tender and crispy. They’ll be a beautiful counterpart to all the tender roasting vegetables.
Classic French technique would have had you prepare a whole new set of vegetables to serve with your roast and give a hearty heave-ho to those roasted with the roast. I view that as akin to crudely tossing out those silken onions that have perfumed Marcella Hazan’s Tomato Sauce. Don’t even think about it. After the roast has rested for 15 minutes or so, gently uncover it. Remove the roast from the pan. Slice it delicately. Arrange the slices on plates. Spoon over them some vegetables and heavenly juices. Spoon on some potatoes.
Raise a toast to those you love among whom you are blessed to find yourselves.