Have you ever eaten a bison burger? More and more people are enjoying this delicious, vitamin-rich, low-fat meat now! Did you know that there is actually a difference between bison and buffalo? I didn't, but I read up a little on bison and one thing I came across was this:
"The scientific name of the bison is "Bison bison" (Genus species). However, the bison is not a "true" buffalo scientifically speaking. There are at least 2 true buffalo which include the African Cape Buffalo and the Asian Water Buffalo.Many people in the bison industry package the meat they sell as "bison" so customers know for sure they are getting bison and not water buffalo."
Huh. I have to admit that it is somehow more appealing to think of the noble, American plains bison rather than the gangly, rather clumsy-looking water buffalo. "What's for dinner?" "Tatonka!" (Native American name for bison)-- sounds so much cooler than, "Water buffalo!" Egads!
Anyway, July 4th is a must-grill day, so bison burgers were on the menu. I also starting thinking about a very delicious cheeseburger we enjoyed in Dallas at a restaurant called "The Grape". My daughter and son-in-law introduced us to this wonderful place and we've had some terrific meals there! Their cheeseburger (not bison) has white cheddar cheese, bacon, and a homemade pickle along with the usual veggies served on the side for options. The homemade pickle was integral to the total yummy experience, so I wanted to do that, plus everyone knows the bun is super important also. So, what-- need to make the buns and the pickles, plus dessert?! AND Ben wants to take the bicycles out for a couple hours! Okay!
For dessert, I made one of my daughter's favorites, the cool, creamy, buttermilk pie. It is super easy and comes together quickly, but the taste is wonderful-- rich, yet refreshing at the same time. Don't worry, it doesn't taste anything like straight buttermilk-- yuck! The night before, I had mixed up the dough for some molasses cookies and then just baked them all the next morning. The spicy, sugar coated cookies go well with the smooth buttermilk pie! Lemon, strawberry, or orange ice cream also complements it, as does a luscious dollop of softly whipped cream......
This sounds like a LOT of work, and way too much fuss for a menu featuring "hamburgers", but really, all the efforts are in little starts and stops. The total time doesn't add up to much and in between you're doing other fun things like bicycling, reading, or playing with your dog!
I'll post the cookie recipe soon! This might be enough for now-- :)
NOTE: When cooking the bison burgers, I make three patties per pound of meat and season with a good amount of salt and pepper. Grill the burgers slowly-- the meat is very lean and will scorch if the heat is too high. This also keeps them from drying out.
Homemade Burger BunsI used the "No Recipe Bread" method (previous post) using 1 Tbl. of sugar, white flour, 1 egg, salt, and 2 cups of warmed buttermilk. After the rising process, separate the dough into 12 portions and form into flat dough patties (about 1/2 inch thick). The easiest way to do this is to make round dough balls and press them down. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Allow to rise 30-40 minutes. Brush with butter and sprinkle with coarse salt, poppy seeds, sesame seeds, or nothing! Bake at 375F for about 30 minutes, until golden brown. Cool, split, and serve!
Homemade Super Quick Pickles
Note: These are fresh, tangy, "pickles" that are stored in the refrigerator, but are NOT the preserved, stablized, heat processed type. Real home canned pickles are wonderful, but you must use an exact recipe and method from a source like the "Ball" canning company (they make the jars).
5 or 6 small pickling cucumbers, scrubbed clean and sliced lengthwise into about 1/4" slices
1/4 cup Kosher salt
1 Tbl. sugar
1/4 cup white vinegar
5 or so whole black peppercorns
1 or 2 tsp. coriander seeds, pickling spice, chopped fresh dill, or any type of herb or spice you like
3 cups water
Put the cucumber slices in a bowl big enough to hold them without going over the top. Boil all the other ingredients together for 1 minute, then pour over the slices. All the cucumbers should be submerged in the liquid. If not, put a small, clean plate on them and weight them down with a canned good of some sort. Place in the refrigerator for as long as you have-- at least a couple hours, but a day is better. They are fine in the refrigerator for a couple days, but tend to lose their crisp texture after that.
1, 9-inch, unbaked pie shell
1 stick butter
1.5 cups sugar
3 Tbl. flour
3 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. lemon juice
dash of salt
grated nutmeg, optional
Preheat the oven to 350F. Cream the butter and sugar together. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Don't worry if it looks "curdled". Pour into the pie shell, sprinkle with nutmeg if using, and bake for 50-60 minutes or until browned and set in the center.
After cooling, store in the fridge until serving time. I usually take it out about 30 minutes before serving. Refrigerate leftovers.