By Tara O'Keeffe | February 17, 2011

Photo: Tara O’Keeffe

There’s another red meat out there folks, and it is from the free-roaming, home-on-the-range bison. With similar texture and taste to beef, bison is a leaner, heart-healthy alternative.

While not readily available in all grocery stores, it has started to pop up behind the meat counter, and with a gentle nudge to your butcher, could be available at a store near you soon. I had the pleasure of enjoying some bison fillets this past weekend, courtesy of the mail-order specialists High Plains Bison. They offer a fast and high-quality variety of all cuts of bison meat, vacuum sealed and packed in dry ice for maximum freshness.

The meat may be leaner, but that doesn’t mean you can’t treat it just like a steak. I decided to prepare the fillets in the classic restaurant-style fashion-pan seared, basted with herb butter, and finished in the oven until perfect medium-rare. This technique can be applied to just about any steak, fillet, or chop.  It produces a crunchy, salty crust with a tender and delicate interior.

If you’re looking to bring the steakhouse home but want cut back on the saturated fat and cholesterol, try substituting bison for beef and see if you can taste the difference.

Photo: Tara O’Keeffe

To learn more about bison and order some directly to your doorstep, check out High Plains Bison.

Tara O’Keeffe is a food writer and founder of FunFearlessFoodie.com.

Pan-Seared Bison Steaks Recipe

Servings: 2


  • 2 (6 ounce) bison fillets
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Canola oil
  • 6 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter


1. Remove the fillets from the refrigerator at least 30 minutes prior to cooking, allowing them to come to room temperature.

2. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.

3. Pat the fillets dry with a paper towel (this helps them get a good sear) and season amply with salt and pepper. Proteins absorb a lot of salt, so don't be shy, give them a good coating.

4. Heat enough canola oil to coat the bottom of a stainless steel skillet over medium-high heat. Since the steaks are lean, you will need the help of fat to ensure they don't stick to the pan. You could use a nonstick if that is your only option, but you can get a hotter surface by using stainless steel.

5. Once you see light wisps of smoke rise from the pan, place the fillets in the pan and sear 1 minute on all sides, making sure not to move the meat around too much, which prevents that delicious crust from forming.

6. Once seared on all sides, remove pan from heat, place the butter and thyme along the edge of the pan and tilt back until the butter is melted. Using a large spoon, baste the tops of the fillets with butter. Place pan directly into the oven and cook for an additional 4-5 minutes for medium-rare, or until the internal temperature reads 120 degrees F.

7. Let the bison rest for at least 10 minutes before slicing to ensure all the juices redistribute and you have a tender, juicy steak.

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