With the Big Game coming up in a few days it’s time to plan that menu fit for your favorite football fans. I’ve been recipe testing looking for just the right balance of delicious and easy to make as well as not bound to break the calorie bank. Sliders are always a big hit but how about stepping it up with Bison sliders. Today I’m serving them with whiskey soaked caramelized onions and sauteed mushrooms.
Traditionally I am all about the cheese burger. I would never think of ordering a burger without cheese but today I made these Bison sliders sans cheese because I wanted to really taste the flavor of the meat. Wow, I’m glad I did that. The Bison was tender and flavorful all on it’s own. Our add-ons made it even more delicious but this burger could easily stand alone. That being said, feel free to add cheese to yours if you like.
Why Bison over Beef?
Bison are raised on ranches or farms, where they graze for their food, that is, they’re grass-fed. Regulations and industry standards don’t allow the use of hormones or routine antibiotics, which are often given as growth promoters to cattle.
Environmentalists like grass-fed bison because this method of meat production is more sustainable and less polluting than conventional methods. As bison graze, they keep the ecosystem in check by preventing grasses from overgrowing, while their waste nourishes the soil. In my research I found that properly grazed grasslands can, in fact, help stem global climate change because they trap the carbon from greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and redistribute it in soil. So when we enjoy our sliders on game night we are actually helping to save our planet. Oh by the way, did you see what I did there? Game for the Big Game.
Time to geek out with some fun facts. Bison meat is leaner than beef, and like all meat, it’s rich in protein, iron, zinc, vitamin B12 and other nutrients. The National Bison Association promotes it as having only 2.4 grams of fat and 143 calories in 3.5 ounces cooked, compared to 8 grams of fat and 200 calories in a piece of “select” beef. That’s based on the leanest cuts, trimmed of all fat. Grass-fed cuts have more heart-healthy fats than conventional beef.
Because bison meat is so lean, it cooks quickly and becomes tough if you cook it too long or at too high a temperature. Don’t let that scare you though. Just adjust your cooking time and temperature and you will enjoy an delicious burger. My husband does most of the grilling and he has become very good at getting it just right. One of the biggest mistakes we see people make when grilling burgers outside or in is flipping the patty multiple times and smashing them down with the spatula. I’ve never understood why anyone would want to squeeze all the juices out of their food in order to get grill marks. Grill marks happen all on their own if you do it properly. See instructions below. It works every time.
Bison Sliders with Whiskey Soaked Onions and Mushrooms
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt plus more for seasoning onions and mushrooms
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter divided
- 2 tablespoons olive oil divided
- 2 large yellow onions halved and sliced paper thin
- 1 ounce whiskey
- 1 pound ground bison
- 8 mini burger buns
- 12 ounces cremini or portabella mushrooms stemmed and thinly sliced
- 2 medium garlic cloves
- 3 sprigs fresh thyme
- good-quality mayonnaise for serving
- 2 handfuls baby arugula for serving
- Heat 1 tablespoon of each the oil and butter in a medium cast iron pan (or other heavy-bottomed pan) over medium-hight heat. Add the onions and a pinch of salt and stir to coat. Reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring every few minutes, until the onions are softened and golden brown, at least 20 minutes. Remove the pan from the stove, add the whiskey, stir to coat and return to the stove over medium heat. Cook just until the alcohol smell is cooked off then set aside until ready to use. Meanwhile, make the mushrooms.
- Heat 1 tablespoon of each the oil and butter in a medium cast iron pan (or other heavy-bottomed pan) over medium-hight heat. When the oil shimmers, add the mushrooms, thyme, and garlic, stir to coat in the oil, season with salt and pepper and cook undisturbed at least 5 minutes. Stir the mushrooms occassionally and continue to cook until the mushrooms have let off the excess water and they’re golden brown, about 5 to 10 minutes more. Remove from heat and set aside until ready to use.
- In a large bowl, mix together the bison and salt until well combined. Shape into 8 (1/4-inch thick) patties.
- Get your grill nice and hot. Rub the grate with a towel dipped in oil. Sear the patty completely on one side for about 1 minute then flip it and sear the other side. This hot sear will lock in juices. Now turn down the heat to a medium/low heat and cook for a few minutes on each side, only turning once. Exact time will depend on your patty size.
- Serve the sliders on the buns topped with mayonnaise, mushrooms, onions, and arugula.
Photographer Sally Roeckell specializes in contemporary lifestyle portraiture with an emphasis on food photography. She regularly shops at Heinen’s for the family dishes she features via Table and Dish on Instagram and on her website at TableAndDish.com.
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