Old Fashioned Bison Burger

That’s right.  Bison burgers.  As in buffalo.  The animal, not the city.

My first encounter with bison came about 9 years ago, along with my first foray into fine dining.  John and I were invited to a work dinner at a fancy, schmancy country club.  We were with a party of about 20 people and seated in a private dining room.   When I saw the menu I was blown away.  7 courses, each paired with a glass of wine.  Our waiters wore white gloves and a sommelier introduced each of the different wines. I was completely out of my league.  For many of the courses you could choose one of two options.  The choices ended up breaking down to the adventurous option and the safe option.  Having never been to a dinner like this before, I decided to go adventurous, all the way.  When would I ever have a chance to eat like this again?

One of the choices was foie gras, a.k.a. fattened duck liver.  This did not sound appealing in the least, but I ordered it anyways and ate the whole thing, happily.  Then there were sweet breads.  Offal and so far from  awful.  The main course was a bison tenderloin.  Goodness, was this ever delicious.  A little sweeter than beef, incredibly tender and surprisingly, not gamey at all.  This meal began my love affair with really good food.  This meal is one of the reasons I learned to cook.  I wanted to eat like this all the time.  The seven course meal turned into a 10 course meal with the chef adding a few extras like a french cheese plate and champagne sorbet.  There was only one downfall to the meal.  I had just found out I was pregnant with Everett, so I couldn’t enjoy any of the incredible wine.  Fortunately the food was so good, I wasn’t too heartbroken.

To buy bison, I usually have to travel to Richmond and stop by Whole Foods.  Fortunately bison has now become more readily available.  I was surprised to see it in my local grocery store, so I jumped at the chance to make these burgers.  If you can’t find bison, ground beef works well too.  Start with 1 pound of meat and split it into 1/4 pound balls.

Place a ball of meat between layers of plastic wrap and flatten it using a rolling pin.  The patty should be thin, about 1/4 inch in thickness.  Remove from the plastic wrap, season well with salt and pepper and cook in a cast iron skillet.  It’s a quick cooking burger, only 2 minutes on each side.  I love that this burger is thin.  I like piling it high with toppings like sharp cheddar cheese, tomatoes, bread and butter pickles, lettuce, onion, steak sauce and mayo.   Serving it on a homemade hamburger bun makes it even better.
Old Fashioned Bison Burger
Recipe Type: sandwich, main dish
Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 8 mins
Total time: 18 mins
Serves: 4
  • 1 lb ground bison or ground beef
  • salt and pepper
  • 4 hamburger buns
  • toppings of choice
  1. Split the meat into 1/4 lb portions and roll into balls.
  2. Place a ball of meat in between 2 layers of plastic wrap and flatten using a rolling pin to about 1/4 inch thick (do not worry if the patties are not perfect circles).
  3. Remove meat from plastic wrap and season both sides generously with salt and pepper.
  4. Heat a cast iron skillet to medium high.
  5. Cook burgers in skillet for 2 minutes on each side.
  6. Place in a hamburger bun with favorite toppings.


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