Thursday Dinner: Bison Barley Stew

“Things I didn’t know for $200, Alex.”

There is such a thing as the National Bison Association. Who knew? I feel like this is something I should have known. I spend enough time researching recipes and foods to cook for the blog, so I’m surprised that I’ve never been to the NBA’s website. After all, poultrypork, foie gras, elk, and other farmers have their own marketing arms. Beef has more than you might think was necessary

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My bison IQ is pretty low, admittedly. Bison and buffalo are related, but not the same animal though the names are used interchangably (that I knew). It has the versatility of beef but it’s actually healthier for you. According to the fine people at the NBA, one serving of bison has less fat, calories and cholesterol, and more protein, iron, and vitamin B12 than a cut of USDA Choice beef. 

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It’s also significantly more expensive. The 12 oz. package of Great Range-brand bison steaks that I purchased at Wegmans was $15.99. In comparison, a 1 lb. sirloin roast is $9.99. In the future, I will have to remember that there’s a farm in Chittenango that raises its own bison. Empire Buffalo LLC charges $14/lb. for its sirloin steaks. And, frankly, I’d rather support a local farmer.

WHAT WORKED: As good as the bison was, the barley added bulk to the stew and did its part to thicken it naturally.

WHAT DIDN’T: The Cookin’ Canuck’s original calls for water. I hate using water like this because, well, it tastes like water. I subbed in more beef stock. 


BEST FOR: It looks like it needs the time required by a Saturday supper or Sunday dinner, but this is easily doable on a weeknight.

SERVE WITH: A hardy red or dark ale.

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Bison Barley Stew
Inspired by the Cookin’ Canuck 

  • 12 oz. bison sirloin steak, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 4 tbsp. canola oil
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 large shallots, minced
  • 3/4 cup diced celery
  • 3/4 cup diced carrots
  • 3/4 cup diced onion
  • 1 tsp. herbes de provence
  • 1 cup Goya barley
  • 6 cups low-sodium beef broth 
  • 1 cup frozen green peas

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Set a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add 2 tbsp. canola oil and heat until it begins to shimmer. Add the bison to the oil, taking care not to splatter. Season well with salt and pepper, and cook until the meat is browned. Stir regularly to turn the meat and get an even brown color on all sides. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the meat to a bowl. Set aside and keep warm.

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Lower your burner to medium and the remaining oil. Add the shallot, carrot, onion and celery to the pan and toss to coat in the oil. Stir in the herbes de provence. Cook, stirring frequently, until the veggies are fork-tender, 7 to 9 minutes.

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Pour in the barley and toss with the veggies. Add the bison meat, then gently pour in the broth. Use a wooden spoon to scrape up any stuck on brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Cook 45 minutes, partially covered, or until the barley is tender and the liquid has reduced to a creamy, gravylike consistency.

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Stir in the frozen peas and cook for an additional 5 minutes. Adjust flavors with salt and pepper, and serve hot.

1 Comment

  • Jim Walter says:

    We have a bison ranch just south of us here in Cheyenne. It is not unusual to see it on the menu in most steakhouses out here. I enjoyed a bison rib eye recently at our downtown chop house and it was divine. Definitely check out Empire Buffalo. They are great people. I did a lot of work with them when I was at Madison County Tourism. They often do open houses in the spring and your whole family will get a kick out of seeing how huge these animals are and learning about them. As a side note, they folks at Empire Buffalo were also starting to grow hops last I knew.

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