Grilled bison steaks with pesto goat cheese gnocchi

Some bison advice: get to know buffalo

Originally appeared in the December 6, 2012 edition of the Southside Times.

Grilled bison steaks with pesto goat cheese gnocchi (5)

You may have noticed those bison steaks chilling in a slim row next to the organic chicken and lamb shanks at your local grocery.  And for whatever reason you’ve passed them over for the same old steaks—whether due to cost or culinary uncertainty—take it from me: you’re missing out.

As shared in the third edition of Labensky and Hause’s insightful tome On Cooking, bison (also known as American buffalo) were once found in huge herds in the plains states, but were hunted into near-extinction during the nineteenth century.

Cooking bison is a quiet affair—what I mean is that while the meat is tender and flavorfully distinct, it lacks the marbling of beef; and having said that, the lean profile of bison requires you to make a few adjustments to the cooking time.  Like other coveted cuts of red meat, I urge you: don’t…overdo…it.

The subtle aroma and flavor of bison is ungamey, and retains a texture akin to filet mignon.  My last three pieces of bison advice: season wisely, uncork a bottle of red, and serve with hearty starch that will do the noble buffalo justice.  See you next week, dear reader.

Grilled bison steaks with pesto goat cheese gnocchi

Serves 2

  • 2, 6- to 8-ounce bison sirloin steaks
  • 16 ounces prepared potato gnocchi (Delallo makes a very decent boxed variety)
  • 2 ounces goat cheese
  • 2 tablespoons prepared pesto
  • As needed, ½ cup (or more) whole milk
  • To taste, kosher salt and cracked black pepper
  • As needed, fresh Italian parsley for garnish

1.  Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil.  Meanwhile, place a grill pan over medium-high heat.  Liberally season bison steaks with kosher salt and cracked black pepper; and once grill is hot, place steaks on heat.  When water comes to a boil, pour in prepared gnocchi and cook for 3- 5 minutes.

2.  Prepare sauce for gnocchi: in a sauté pan over low heat, add goat cheese along with a small amount of milk; allow cheese to melt down.  When goat cheese has thinned out, whisk in prepared pesto; season to taste and keep warm.

3.  When bison has been grill-seared on both sides, place on an oven-safe dish, cover with aluminum foil, and continue cooking in oven at 375°F for 5-7 minutes or until desired doneness is achieved.  Drain gnocchi thoroughly and toss in goat cheese sauce.  Serve bison atop gnocchi and garnish with Italian parsley.

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Published in: on December 6, 2012 at 10:08 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Grilled chicken skewers with honey-lime corn salad

Skewer de force

Originally appeared in the August 23, 2012 edition of the Southside Times.

Back in culinary school, I was acquainted with a jovial bloke who had a comical hatred for, what he called, “food on sticks.”  I never really questioned my culinary comrade, just laughed along with everyone else at this particular idiosyncrasy.

Otherwise admiring my friend’s insight, I didn’t necessarily agree with his take on skewered fare.  For one, just about every noble cuisine has a version of the aforementioned execution—whether it be kebob (see also kabab, kibob) or satay or souvlaki; plus, cooking “food on sticks” can be a labor-light technique that yields savory, bite-sized servings.  My cast-iron grill has accumulated some signature flavors over the years, so it’s the cooking device of choice when it comes to skewers.

A caveat: Once again, this installment’s co-star carries the capability to transcend its side-dish status.  By not only complimenting the grilled chicken, the honey-lime corn salad is a pleasantly complicated recipe that you might find yourself employing over and over again either as a stand-alone dish, or pairing with a multitude of suitable proteins.

So as long as the refreshing weather lingers, fire up your grill and break out your sticks.  Don’t let the humble kebob get impaled by anybody’s bad rap.

Grilled chicken skewers with honey-lime corn salad

Serves 2 -3

  • 3 large, free-range chicken breasts
  • As needed, olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon each, chopped fresh basil and dill
  • 2 ears sweet corn, kernels cut from cob
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 ½ tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • To taste, kosher salt and cracked black pepper
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 5-6 cherry tomatoes, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons goat cheese, chunked

1.  Cut each chicken breast into three large chunks and place in large bowl.  Pour in enough olive oil to generously coat the meat; add fresh basil and dill and gently toss, distributing evenly.  Allow meat to rest in fridge.

2.  Meanwhile, bring roughly 1 quart of water to a boil, and add in ¼ teaspoon of baking soda (this will help soften the kernel).  Add cut kernels to water, and cook for about 4-5 minutes (or until kernels are tender).  Thoroughly drain corn and allow to cool in a bowl.  In a separate bowl, combine lime juice and honey, and slowly whisk in olive oil to form a emulsion; season to taste with kosher salt and cracked black pepper.

3.  Preheat grill.  Remove chicken from fridge.  Using four sticks, arrange several large pieces of meat along two skewers each.  Season with salt and pepper and grill on all sides until meat is cooked; allow to rest.

4.  When corn has cooled, add honey-lime dressing, fresh cilantro, cherry tomatoes, goat cheese, and gently fold together; adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.  Serve with grilled chicken skewers.

Goat cheese ravioli with herb cream sauce

Ravioli in a pinch

Originally appeared in the March 10, 2011 edition of the Southside Times.

Some culinarians are devout about traditional classifications of well-known specialties and the techniques employed to achieve the hallmarks those dishes.  Without doubt, among these purists are those who’d dare not deign subscription to a designation which fell short of that orthodox criteria.  Understandable.  To a great degree, I’m still one of these purists.  I wince each time I hear Guy Fieri’s ignoble brand of “gringo sushi.”  I mean, come on—pulled pork, French fries, wrapped in rice paper?  More after the jump: (more…)

Published in: on March 11, 2011 at 6:31 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Dried mushroom and goat cheese risotto

Go with the grain

Originally appeared in the September 23, 2010 edition of the Southside Times.

In case you didn’t know, September is national honey month, national all-American breakfast month, national papaya month, organic harvest month, chicken month, and hug-a-Texas-chef month.  When I find out when hug-a-Hoosier-chef month is I’ll let you know.  But among other vittles being commemorated this month, September also happens to be national mushroom and national rice month.  As such, I thought sharing a recipe spotlighting both would be apropos.  Read more after the jump: (more…)

Published in: on September 24, 2010 at 3:17 pm  Leave a Comment  
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