A roast is a beautiful thing. With very little work on your part, a roast can easily feed a large group of people and more often than not, provide leftovers for the next day. Roasts can be casual and budget friendly, like a good ‘ol pot roast, or you can step it up a notch for upcoming holiday dinners by roasting something a little different, like bison.
Although similar in flavor to beef, bison is often described as having a sweeter, richer flavor that needs only minimal seasoning to enhance it. When cooked rare or medium rare, bison has a delicate texture that is less stringy and chewy than beef can be. Bison rump, chuck or round roasts are the least expensive, but also the least tender cuts and are best cooked for hours in a slow cooker. We all love comfort food from a Crock Pot, but when the holidays roll around you might have your sights set on something a little fancier. If this is the case, start scanning your meat department for either bison tri-tip, or if you really want to splurge, bison prime rib.
Bison prime rib is thought to be the most tender cut and at around $30/pound, you’re going to pay for every tender mouthful. Bison tri-tip is less-expensive and can be equally delicious and quite tender, too. Cut from the sirloin, the tri-tip is richly flavored and when served medium-rare and cut thinly, almost melts in your mouth.
Whichever cut you choose, bison cooks relatively quickly, freeing up your oven for other holidays goodies. To make the meal even easier to prepare, surround the meat with chopped root vegetables – turnip, rutabaga and parsnip – so your main course and side dish will cook together and finish at the same time.
Now back to that bit about bison needing only minimal seasoning… salt and pepper will do just fine, but if you want to get a little fancier without much fuss, look for Herbes de Provence in the spice aisle. This aromatic blend of dried thyme, savory, rosemary, tarragon, basil and lavender adds complex flavor to a roast and will send an unbelievable aroma wafting out of your oven. You’ll be instantly transported out of your kitchen and to the French countryside. If France isn’t your thing, however, any simple blend from your spice drawer will make a tasty rub for your bison roast.
We find that a 2 – 2 1/2 pound tri-tip roast easily feeds 4 or more, but talk to your butcher about how many pounds of meat to buy. Obviously, the cooking time will increase as the size of the roast increases, but cooking time will also vary from oven to oven. The best indicator of when your roast is perfectly cooked is temperature, not time. A meat thermometer is your best friend, and when that friend says “145 degrees Fahrenheit” your bison roast is ready to come out of the oven. Served on a platter surrounded with roasted vegetables and garnished with fresh herbs, a tri-tip bison roast is a simple but elegant meal: succulent, tender and mouth-wateringly flavorful.
2 pounds bison tri-tip
2 tablespoons Herbes de Provence (or other spices of your choice)
1 teaspoon dried minced garlic (don’t use fresh or it might burn)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons oil
1 white or yellow onion, sliced
1 each parsnip, turnip and rutabaga, cubed
Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
Using a knife, carefully slice most of the silver skin off the meat. The silver skin is the thin, white layer covering parts of the roast.
In a small bowl mix together Herbes de Provence, garlic, salt and oil.
Rub the entire roast with the mixture then stick a thermometer into the thickest part of the roast. In a roasting pan, surround the meat with the chopped vegetables. Lightly drizzle the vegetables with oil then put the pan, uncovered, in the oven for 15 minutes.
Reduce oven heat to 300 degrees and cook the meat for approximately 35-45 minutes more, or until the thermometer reaches 140-145 degrees. The meat in the photo, cooked rare, was taken out of the oven at 140 degrees.
Remove the meat from the oven but leave the oven on so the vegetables can continue to cook. Let the meat rest on a cutting board for 15 minutes, uncovered or very lightly covered with foil. Remove the vegetables from the oven, slice the meat thinly, and serve.
**The internal temperature of the roast will rise while the meat is resting, bringing it to medium rare. If you slice the meat and it is still too rare for your taste, don’t panic. Return the sliced meat to the oven for additional cooking, but keep an eye on it – once sliced, the meat will cook very quickly. Remember, bison is most tender and flavorful when it is still fairly pink.