It was an exciting day when I discovered that the neighbourhood supermarket had started selling small vacuum packs of bison meat (aka buffalo). As I'm sure is obvious by now, I'm always errr... game to try out a new and interesting ingredient, so I promptly picked up a couple of packages and skipped away gleefully with my find.
Since bison is a very lean meat, a long slow cooking process is the best way to avoid a dry, tough end result, which makes braising the perfect choice.
I know a combo of coffee, maple syrup and bacon probably makes you think of breakfast, but trust me when I tell you that this stew will taste nothing like any breakfast you've ever had. In fact, the coffee flavour isn't particularly noticeable beyond a subtle and slightly smoky base note that complements the woodsy smokey flavour of the bacon. You'll want to serve this one with lots of crusty bread, so that you can mop up all the sauce from your plate.
Can't find bison? No worries - this recipe is equally tasty if you substitute a braise-worthy cut of beef, like shanks, short ribs or oxtail.
Coffee-Braised Bison Stew
2 lbs bison stew meat
1 cup strong brewed coffee
1 cup water
¼ cup maple syrup
2 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp salt
2 tbsp flour
2 tbsp ancho chili powder
3 rashers bacon, chopped
1 small onion, diced
2 cups strong brewed coffee, divided
2 cups dry red wine
1 tbsp chipotle-based hot sauce
In a large zip-top bag, combine the bison with remaining marinade ingredients. Set in the fridge to marinate for 4-6 hours, or overnight.
Preheat oven to 300F. Remove bison from the marinade and toss with flour and ancho chili powder until evenly coated; discard marinade.
In a large heavy pot or Dutch oven, cook the bacon over high heat until just starting to brown. Remove from pot and set aside. Working in batches, brown the bison on all sides; remove from pot and set aside. Reduce heat to medium; add onion to the pot and saute, stirring frequently, until soft.
Add coffee, wine and chipotle sauce; stir, making sure to scrape up any browned bits on the bottom of the pot. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Return bacon and bison to the pot, along with any accumulated juices. Cover and transfer to the preheated oven. Braise stew for 2 ½ hours, or until the bison is tender.