That’s right, I made me some PIT BISON! I think this may be a first, since searching “pit bison” returns nothing having to do with food, except for links pointing to yours truly…. It’s the largest mammal native to the US – the original American red meat. And it was grown right here in Maryland to boot, at Gunpowder Bison and Trading Company up in Monkton (see pic above). I only recently learned that a bison farming industry even existed in this state, but apparently there are around 13 farms of varying size. Maryland bison, incidentally, will be the subject of my next Citypaper article.
We drove up to the farm to pick up this beautiful (pretty expensive at $8.59/lb) top round roast, but Gunpowder Bison also participates in the fledgling Harbor East farmer’s market on Saturdays. I assumed it would be larger than a beef top round, but it weighed in at 3-4 lbs., same as beef. You will note that it is much darker, a visual cue to the nutritional properties of bison:
I followed the same process as for pit beef, applying a very simple salt/pepper/garlic rub:
You may notice a couple things in the next pic: 1) briquettes – I cooked the pit bison at a friend’s house to christen his new grill, and thought it too douchey to bring my own charcoal (I prefer lump charcoal for grilling); 2) the burgers (also bison) have holes in the middle – that’s a little cooking trick I use for fast, even cooking in my burgers:
The bison top round, charring away nicely:
The finished pit bison, resting:
Slicing thin is even more important here, because bison is denser and leaner than beef, so although I was too humble to bring my own charcoal, I was insistent on bringing my trusty meat slicer:
Slices of incredibly beefy – almost richly so – pit bison:
All tasters were quite impressed, in fact I would say blown away, by the aroma, flavor and texture of the pit bison. The charred “bark” was a bit dry, but the less well done interior was moist and extremely savory. Think of slightly salty, slightly bloody beef, times three and with no metallic hints. It tasted intense but clean, with richness coming from the flesh as opposed to fat. The pit beef went so fast I actually did not have time to get a pic of a completed sandwich. One important note is that I didn’t see anyone put any condiments on their sandwiches, a true testament to the bison’s deliciousness and juiciness. But then I was pretty drunk by then, so I could be totally wrong. Bison, especially a less tender and lean cut like top round, is unsuitable for cooking past medium doneness, because bison is so lean and dense. I actually brought along a few pieces of beef top round, which I then cooked to medium-well for folks who prefer their meat overcooked, heh. More on Gunpowder Bison and bison meat and recipes coming soon.