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Batty for Bison — Plus A Food Gal Giveaway

Durham Ranch bison ribs right out of the smoker.

Love the brawny taste of beef, but feeling a tad guilty about all that fat and cholesterol that go along with it?

Then, take a taste of bison.

Buffalo meat has much the same satisfying flavor, but with less fat and cholesterol, as well as fewer calories. Consider that a 3.5-ounce serving of choice beef has nearly 19 grams of fat, while the same portion of bison has just 2.42 grams. The bison also has more iron, B-12 and protein.

I admit I’ve eaten far more beef than bison, simply because it’s easier to find in most stores. So, I jumped at the chance when Durham Ranch of Wyoming offered to send me some samples to try.

The 55,000-acre ranch was started in 1965 by Armando Flocchini, a former butcher in San Francisco. It remains one of the largest bison ranches in North America.

I tried the bison rib eye, which arrived in a huge roast that my husband, aka Meat Boy, deftly cut into 2-inch, nearly 2-pound steaks to grill.

Although I do love my condiments, including all manner of sauces, when I’m eating good meat, I like to keep it plain and simple. That’s why I seasoned these steaks only with some sea salt before cooking it to medium-rare.

Bison rib eye in all its juicy glory.

Who wants a taste of this?

The Durham Ranch bison is grass-fed meat that’s finished on grain. Because of that, it was more tender than I expected. It’s not as flabby as a corn-fed beef steak in texture, but with more chew. There’s a complex minerality, and a wonderful natural, gentle sweetness to this meat.

For the ribs, I went looking for a rub with some warm, musky, earthy flavors that would complement but not overwhelm the meat. I found what I was looking for in “Steven Raichlen’s BBQ USA” (Workman, 2003) by master griller Steven Raichlen.

My husband smoked the ribs in his Big Green Egg after applying the aromatic rub all over the 11-pounds of ribs.

Talk about heaven. The bison ribs were less fatty than beef or pork ones, but delicious in their own right, especially with the rub that complimented the meat’s natural flavor.

With a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon, it was a meal to remember.

CONTEST: Two lucky Food Gal readers will each receive the same samples I did — a huge bison rib eye roast plus 11 pounds of bison ribs — all courtesy of Durham Ranch. Each prize is valued at a total of $170.

Entries, limited to those in the continental United States, will be accepted through midnight PST March 12. The two winners will be announced on March 14.

How to win?

You’ve already read how I prepared and enjoyed my meat fest. Just tell me how you would most like to enjoy your ribs and rib eyes if you were to win. Best two answers win the two prizes.

A delicious rub that would also be divine on chicken or pork.

Cinnamon and Cumin Veal Rub

(Makes about 1 cup)

1 tablespoon dried rosemary

1/2 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar

1/4 cup coarse salt (kosher or sea)

3 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons ground cumin

2 tablespoons dried oregano

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

Crumble the rosemary between your fingers into a small bowl.

Add the brown sugar, salt, pepper, cumin, oregano, and cinnamon to the rosemary and stir to mix. (Actually, your fingers work better for mixing than a spoon or whisk does.) Store the rub in an airtight jar away from heat and light; it will keep for several months.

From “Steven Raichlen’s BBQ USA”