Bison refers to the North American buffalo, Bison bison, and its meat. The name is used to differentiate the American buffalo from the Asian Water buffalo and African Cape buffalo.
Bison meat differs from beef in a few ways. Bison tends to have a deeper red color prior to cooking due to a lack of marbling (white flecks of fat within the meat muscle). Overall, bison is much leaner that beef, having a total fat content of about 2%, compared to 15-20% for beef. It is said to have a sweeter, richer flavor than beef. However, retail cuts of bison are similar to those of beef.
Handle bison meat the same as any other type of meat. 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 at 40°F; use within 3 to 5 days, or freeze. 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.
Preparing Bison Edit
Since it is very lean and lacks fat marbling, bison can cook faster than other red meats. As a result, care must be taken to not overcook bison. In general, bison should be cooked using low heat and longer cooking times. For safety, cook ground bison meat to 160 °F.
Braising or other moist cooking methods are recommended for bison roasts and steaks. Less tender cuts should be braised (roasted or simmered with a small amount of liquid in a tightly covered pan) or stewed. 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).
For thin-sliced bison, use quick cooking methods such as broiling and pan frying.