Americans are rediscovering the rich flavor of bison steak. Bison is packed with nutrition and priced right for family fare. You can prepare it any way you can cook a beef steak, such as by broiling or braising it, but the best way to cook a bison steak is to grill it. Quality cuts of bison are every bit as flavorful and juicy as a beef steak, and the smoky finish from the grill cuts the slightly gamy finish of the bison.
Bison steaks come in the same cuts as a beef steak. As a rule of thumb, choose cuts of bison to grill that would correspond to cuts of beef steak suitable for grilling. Rib eye steaks, T-bones or New York strips are all suitable for the grill. Choose steaks with a healthy marbling of fat because bison steaks tend to be very lean and they can dry out quickly. The fat will help the meat self-baste as it cooks.
Marinating and Rubs
Because bison steaks are a lean protein, you should marinate the steaks for anywhere from four hours to overnight before you grill them. Any marinade that you would choose for a beef steak is appropriate. For example, buttermilk or an olive oil-based marinade will tenderize the meat and give the meat a more buttery texture once it comes off the grill. Flavored vinegar or soy sauce also works well with olive oil as a marinade, and will help to flavor the steak as it marinates. To enhance the taste without marinating, use a dry rub on the surface of the meat. Dry salad dressing and seasoning mix is a good base for a homemade dry rub. Simply add your favorite herbs, fresh peppercorns and other spices to the dressing mix, and pat the powdery blend onto the steak before grilling. You can also stir a dry rub into your marinade to flavor the liquid.
Take the bison steaks out of the refrigerator and allow them to come to room temperature. Warm meat stays more juicy on the grill, and this is even more important with bison than with beef. Heat your grill to medium, about 350 F. Grill the steaks for three to five minutes on each side, depending on how thick the steaks are and how done you want them to be. Rotate them 90 degrees in the middle of cooking each side to get a cross-hatch pattern from the grate. Very thick bison steaks may need additional time to cook. The steaks are ready when an instant-read meat thermometer reads 120 F for rare, 125 F for medium-rare, or 135 F for medium.
Monitor the steaks carefully to ensure that they do not overcook. Do not cook bison steaks past medium or they will become dry and fibrous. When you remove the steaks from the grill, allow them to rest for 10 minutes before you serve them. The resting time allows the meat to absorb the hot juices, preventing them from spilling out and drying the meat when you slice into it.
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