No. It’s not like The Flintstones and Rubbles at the drive-in. But bbq bison ribs are big. And good. And lean and mean. Well, not really mean. Cooked slowly on the grill (or in the crockpot, cut up, while you’re at work) and then lathered with your favorite sauce for the last few minutes, they make for mouth-watering, chew-the-bone backyard patio food. Most people love ribs, but hate the fat. Bison ribs have all the flavor and a fraction of the fat. The taste is more short rib or baby back rib than run-of-the-mill pork rib, and after you eat them, you might consider buying some for the winter and braising them in wine, onions, garlic and carrots. That’s another story. But on the grill, they’re incredible.
Locally, you can grab your locally raised bison ribs at the downtown St. Paul Farmer’s Market from Big Woods Bison (Nerstrand, MN) and, while you’re at it, pick up a couple of pounds of ground bison for burgers. If there’s anything St. Paul folk love, it’s a hamburger. Just witness the numbers of burgers on menus around town and see what I mean. Bison burgers taste much like beef burgers, but better. If you’re interested in local food, Big Woods Bison fills that bill, too. Here’s the scoop that might really push you toward trying bison: it’s healthier.
Let’s talk fat. 2.42 grams of fat per 3 oz serving. Versus 18.54 for beef.
Calories: 143 for bison (3oz serving). Versus 283 for beef. (For more nutritional info, see below.)
Wine: Good old American zinfandel (red). Favorites: Seghesio, Chase, Turley, Sineann
Beer: Bells Oberon or Summit Pale Ale
How much do you need? Of course, it depends on how many other dishes you serve. Typically, a rack will serve 3 people and perhaps 4 if you have lots of sides and/or bread. Here’s how:
Alyce’s BBQ Bison Ribs serves 3-4
- 1 rack bison ribs (2 1/2 – 3 pounds)
- 1 tsp garlic salt
- 2tsp freshly ground black pepper
- Sprinkle of ground cayenne, optional
- 1 T plus 1t Herbes de Provence (or a mixture of dried or fresh rosemary and thyme or your favorite rub)
- 1 cup apple juice in a spray bottle, optional
- 2 cups wood chips (apple or hickory)
- 1 c favorite bbq sauce (or make my favorite, BYTES, below*)
- Early in day: unthaw ribs if frozen. Remove membrane on back of ribs. (Click to see a video about that.) At least one hour before cooking, soak the wood chips in just enough water to cover and set aside outdoors. Drain before using.
- Mix salt, pepper, cayenne (if using) and Herbes de Provence in a small bowl and rub that mixture all over both sides of the ribs using your fingers. Cover and refrigerate until ready to cook. If you don’t get around to the rub until right before you cook, so be it. If you do it earlier (or the night before), all the better.
- Preheat gas grill. Adjust for indirect cooking over medium-low heat (about 300 degrees F). Add soaked wood chips according to manufacturer’s directions. Or wrap in foil and add to grill. Cover and heat about 10 minutes or until chips begin to smoke.
- Place ribs, bone side down, directly on grill or on a grill rack. (If desired, you could put them in a roasting pan.) Cover and smoke ribs for 2 hours, turning every 45 minutes and spraying with apple juice, if you like. After two hours, wrap in foil, brush with a little sauce and return to grill for another 30-60 minutes until tender with just a bit of chew.
- Remove foil, discard, and place ribs back on grill directly. Turn grill up to 350-400 degrees Fahrenheit. Brush on barbeque sauce and let roast another 10-15 minutes, turning once after 5-7 minutes, being careful not to burn the ribs. Remove to cutting board or serving platter.
- Let rest five minutes and cut into 1 or 2-rib sections. Serve hot or at room temperature and pass the remaining sauce at the table.
- If you’d like to make these ribs in the crockpot, you’ll need a 6 qt pot. Rub with seasoning as per above, and place cut-up ribs in pot with 1/4 c water in the bottom to catch drips without burning. Cook for 6-8 hours on low and then grill for a few minutes with sauce as per above. Here’s one recipe. You can also try oven-roasting them at 225 degrees for about 3 hours, per ehow; see article on website below in for more info.
- If you’d like to make them on a charcoal grill, see information below (For more info.)
*BYTES BBQ SAUCE–my favorite. Don’t skip any ingredients. This sauce is a combination of tomatoey, vinegary, mustardy, Asian sauces. It can be heated up with extra Tabasco and is excellent on burgers, chicken, or anything else for which you need a great bbq sauce. (Courtesy BYTES, Colorado’s Family-Friendly Cookbook, Graland Country Day School, Denver, CO: 1984.)
- 1 1/2 cups ketchup
- 3/4 c ea: chili sauce, red wine vinegar, water
- 1/2 c fresh lemon juice
- 1/4 c ea: A-1 sauce, prepared mustard (hot dog yellow variety)
- 3/4 c brownsugar
- 1T celery seeds
- 2T Worcestershire sauce
- 1T soy sauce
- 1 clove garlic
- Dash Tabasco (or to taste)
Mix all together in a large saucepan. Simmer 30 minutes and turn off. Cool and use immediately or refrigerate until needed. Keeps 2 weeks in frig, well-covered.
About bison generally
(from American Bison Association)
- No artificial shelter (barns, etc.) needed. Bison prefer to be outside, year round, despite the weather.
- Efficient feed utilization, making them economical foragers which do well on most grasses in the United States.
- Long productive lives.
- Primary requirements: Fresh water and adequate nutrition.
- Calving rarely requires human intervention. Bison by and large calve on their own.
- Superior hardiness results in disease resistance, lower input costs, fewer veterinarian visits.
- Bison thrive in most North American landscapes with no ill effects.
- The bison industry enjoys a free enterprise market without excessive intervention.
- Bison demand has consistently grown in double digits for the past five years.
For more info:
– Big Woods Bison, 12220 190th Street E.Nerstrand, MN 55053-3105. (507) 789-5880. (no website found) See them at the downtown St. Paul Farmer’s Market.
– National Bison Association website with more info and nutritional details
– Good detailed info on how to cook ribs from ehow.
–St. Paul Farmer’s Market: Downtown 6am-1pm, Saturdays; 8am-1pm Sundays. Also other locations; see website here.
290 E. 5th St., St. Paul, MN 55105.
– Minnesota Buffalo Association website
-Grilling ribs on a charcoal grill
-A recipe for crock-pot/grill ribs
-Listen to Roy Rogers sing “Home on the Range” while you cook your ribs. There are verses you might not know.