Dutch Lovin'

Dutch Lovin'

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Bentley, Jay

Between Yellowstone Park in the south, Ted Turner in the middle, the National Bison refuge at Moiese in the northwest, and all of the smaller bison-ranching operations in between, Montana has become a virtual bison factory. I think that’s great… although there are a lot of cattlemen who would take serious issue with that statement. Bison meat is very high in protein, low in fat, and damn good eats. Every so often we’ll feature this simple dish as a meaty special at The Mint Bar and Café in Belgrade, and people love it.

Buffalo can be expensive, so like beef, it’s better to use the cheaper, tougher cuts for braised dishes. I suggest a bison knuckle for some really tasty eating. This recipe works just as well with elk or moose too, so give it a try.

You don’t have to cook this dish in a Dutch oven over an open fire for it to be outstanding. And you don’t have to serve it steaming hot on tin plates in a hunting camp pitched by the side of a rushing mountain stream—but it helps. 

4 lbs. bison meat in 1-1/2” cubes

1 cup olive oil

2 large onions coarsely diced

1/3 cup flour

2 cups beef stock or water plus 2 tbsp. beef base

1 cup dark beer (porter or stout)

1 small can tomato paste

3 tbsp. thyme

3 bay leaves

1 tsp. allspice

3 tbsp. granulated garlic

4 baking potatoes cut into 1-1/2” cubes

2-3 medium carrots cut into 1” pieces

1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley (optional)

Salt and pepper to taste

Add oil to a hot Dutch oven, pot, or braising pan. Brown the bison and set aside. Add the onions, and when translucent, add the flour. Stir well. When the flour has browned, add the seared meat. Pour in all the liquids, stirring well to dislodge the cooked meat, flour, and onions from the bottom. Add the thyme, bay leaves, allspice, and garlic, cooking over low heat for three hours. When the meat is tender, add the potatoes and carrots and cook until they are done but not mushy. Salt and pepper to taste. At this point, the gravy should be fairly thick. If it is too thick, thin with water or beef stock. Serve in warm bowls with a bit of fresh chopped parsley for color, plenty of crusty bread, and a stout Zinfandel. Serves 6 to 8.

Jay Bentley has been at The Mint Bar and Café in Belgrade since 1994. He loves his wife, his friends, fly fishing, and red wine—in that order.

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