Bison, or oftentimes called buffalo, have roamed the central and northern parts of North America for centuries. Hunted to near extinction by European settlers in much of America, meanwhile, in Canada, bison have large pockets of growing wild populations. Many ranchers in Canada also opt to raise bison instead of beef cattle. The meat is milder, slightly sweeter and much leaner.
Like any animal, there are fattier components. My favourite fatty part of most animals are the tails and bone marrow. These parts are only best prepared in a stewing or braising method. One of the best ways to take advantage of this fattiness is to braise them as a part of a meaty tomato sauce or ragu bolognese.
Traditional ragu bolognese is a slow simmered sauce oftentimes with beef or pork, but if you go to different regions in Italy, the meat can vary. Sometimes boar, sometimes lamb, it can depend on what is nearby. Also common is a vegetable component of onion, celery, carrots and garlic along with tomato and wine. I didn’t go with a wine component to keep my ingredients relatively simple. The time will be expended on a short roasting time and waiting for a slow cooker. Overall, it’s largely hands-free, but all wonderful things take time, so I think the time is worth it 🙂
Bison Tail Ragu Bolognese:
1 bison tail (or oxtail) (You could get your butcher to cut it into pieces but I find that the tail will break down in the slow cooker anyways, so just curl it in there and it’ll be fine)
450g/1 lb ground bison or beef
1-1/2 cups chopped onions (about 2 medium onions)
1 cup carrots, peeled and chopped
1/2 cup celery, chopped
2 tsp cold pressed canola oil
1-750mL can whole tomatoes, crushed by hand
1-130mL can tomato paste
3 Tbsp dried oregano
5 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
1-1/2 tsp salt
Preheat oven to 200C/425F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Line a 24cm/8″ square baking pan with foil. Set aside.
On the large baking sheet, crumble the ground bison (or beef) in a single layer. In the baking pan, add the onions, celery and carrot. Place the tail on top and drizzle with the oil.
Roast the baking pan with the tail and veggies for 20 minutes or until the tail is deeply golden.
Roast the ground meat for 10 minutes until golden. Transfer both the roasted ground meat pan and the roasted tail pan with all of the veggies to a slow cooker. Add the hand crushed canned tomatoes, tomato paste, water, oregano, garlic and salt. Turn on the slow cooker to simmer for 10 hours. Remove the bones with tongs and serve with tagliatelle or fettuccine. It is also a great component in lasagna which it will be this week. Stay tuned for the lasagna assembly tomorrow!