Bison Bolognese

As a follow up to my post touting the advantages of bison, I thought I would post a recipe that uses it. Bolognese is a traditional Italian red meat sauce, with a heavy emphasis on the meat component (originated from Bologna, Italy). While I love meat and bolognese, changing ratios of traditional dishes to increase the vegetable content is always a goal of mine. Most of the time I end up liking the veggie heavy version better (or at least just as well!). I added red bell pepper, zucchini, and mushrooms this time around because they were fresh and calling to me at the grocery store. Experiment with different vegetables if those don’t tickle your fancy.

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lb ground bison
  • 5 medium carrots, diced
  • 4 stalks of celery, finely diced
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 2 medium zucchini, halved and sliced
  • 8 oz cremini (baby bella) mushrooms, sliced
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 can diced tomatoes (28 oz) (or fresh if you have them)
  • 1/2 cup red wine**
  • Fresh oregano, parsley, and basil, rough chop
  • salt & black pepper to taste
  • 1 tbsp crushed red pepper (optional or use less if you don’t want too much heat)
  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese (optional topping)

Directions

In a stock pot or Dutch oven, sauté the carrots, bell pepper, celery and onion in olive oil. When vegetables begin to soften – push to the sides of pot. Add bison to middle of pot to brown. After the bison is browned and the carrots are somewhat soft add garlic, salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper to taste. Cook for an addition minute or two. Add in the rest of the vegetables, cooking for another 5 – 8 minutes until begin to soften. Add tomatoes and red wine, reduce heat to medium low and cover for 20-40 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add fresh herbs 10 minutes before finish. Serve over pasta (I love linguini) and top with freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Enjoy!

**Note: A great tip that a great chef once told me: “Cook with the wine you want to drink. Why skimp on flavor in your meals with bad alcohol…that’s just cooking blasphemy.” 🙂

Bison … a tasty alternative to cow *smiles*

I love bison. I think it is one of those under-appreciated meats. Most people have only heard of bison used to make an alternative-to-beef-burger (in my opinion they are only okay). I think there is more to bison than burger. Bison has more flavor and protein and less fat than beef. Bison is also extremely nutrient dense, with good amounts of iron, zinc and the antioxidant selenium. Below I have a nutrition comparison between not only bison and beef but pork, chicken, duck, venison and halibut.

As I have said before I get my meat from Whole Foods and their bison has no antibiotics,no added growth hormones, no animal byproducts in feed, and the buffalo are raised on pasture or range for at least 2/3 of the animal’s life. Even outside of Whole Foods, buffalo are generally treated and fed better than cows. This week I made my veggie heavy version of Bison Bolognese (I will post the recipe tomorrow). It was a easy, satisfying meal with more focus on the veggies with a good amount of meat spread throughout the dish. Yummy!

Recently, I have been decreasing my meat consumption, but increasing the quality of my meat (It is amazing how tastier it is as well!! 🙂 ) This change has been sparked by many things but Michael Pollan’s Rule 27 from “Food Rules” sums it up well:

“Rule 27: Eat animals that have themselves eaten well…

The diet of the animals we eat strongly influences the nutritional quality, and healtfulness of the food we get form them, whether it is meat or milk or eggs. This should be self-evident, yet it is a truth routinely overlooked b the industrial food chain in its quest to produce vast quantities of cheap animal protein. That quest has changed the diet of most of out food animals in ways that have often damaged their their and healthfulness. We feed animals a high energy diet of grain to make them grow quickly,even in the case of ruminants that have evolved to eat grass. But even food animals that can tolerate grain are much healthier when they have access to green plants – so, it turns out, are their meat and eggs. The good from these animals will contain much healthier types of fat (more omega-3s, less omega-6s) as well as appreciably higher levels of vitamins and antioxidants. (For the same reasons, meat form wild animals is particularly nutritious) It’s worth looking for pastured animal foods in the market – and paying the premium prices they typically command if you can”

If you are on a strict budget like myself (medical school does not leave a lot of room for extravagant expenditures), you can try to stick with the motto: quality over quantity. This goes against so much of how our society functions anymore, but I don’t think that having more is necessarily better. I will pay more for better quality which forces me to eat less of certain things but increases the overall quality of the food I put in my body. Eating healthier now can potentially save you money down the road, by saving you from a lot of future medical bills incurred from eating unhealthy foods (and living unhealthy lifestyles). Our choices today will affect the future of our tomorrow.