Last weekend, the partner and I took a trip to Cincinnati, primarily to go to REI for some gear. But as usual, since we had a chance, we took a side trip to Jungle Jim’s International Market. It’s a great place to go get lost (literally) for several hours. We went in for three things: 1) interesting meat, 2) chocolate, and 3) gluten-free stuff. We scored some gluten-free beers we had never tried and about $50 worth of dark chocolates, several from Belgium. We also came home with some elk, alligator/kangaroo/bison/elk/venison jerky, and, you guessed it, bison ribeyes.
I’ve never been much of a steak person, but then again, all I’d ever had before today were beef steaks. I grew up eating a lot of venison, so beef has always seemed bland in comparison. And in all things I’ve tried, bison is much better than beef, even grass-fed beef. So, yeah, I had to try it.
I’ve also had a couple of half-empty bottles of red wine clinking on top of my fridge every time someone walks through the kitchen. We separate them and they work their way back together, and it’s been driving me crazy. So, I decided to separate them and use one as a marinade. I picked my favorite of the two–Bald Peak Cab–which happened to be the kind we served at our wedding reception.
Also, I’ve gotten into this little habit lately of cooking down fruits to make them last a bit longer in our house. I’m the only one who is a major fruit eater (the other two are content with cuties), so things can turn before I get a chance to eat them up. After grabbing up the red wine, my mind went immediately to the cherry sauce I made on Monday. A wine and fruit reduction seemed like a perfect, simple way to complement a steak, so I went with it.
Disclaimer: It seems there’s a debate about whether wine is considered paleo, so I don’t know whether I can call this one 100% paleo or not. I still like some wine on occasion, and will enjoy my glass every month or two. As for substitutions if you don’t do wine: balsamic vinegar would be pretty good for the marinade, but I’m not sure about using that much of it in the sauce. Apple or grape juice would probably make everything too sweet, unless you adjust the ratio of broth to vinegar to juice (maybe just a splash).
Step 1: Marinate
- 1 C good red drinking wine (not cooking wine)
- 2 T oil (I used coconut, but olive oil might be better)
- 2 tsp minced garlic
- A healthy amount of black pepper
- 2 bison ribeye steaks, about 5 oz each
Mix all the marinade ingredients together in a glass storage container, and then plop the steaks in there and coat them well. Put it in the fridge and let it marinate for 8 hours or so. I made this in the morning before work.
Take the steak and marinade out of the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature before the next step.
Step 2: Make the Sauce
The cherry sauce I mention here was very simple to make.The easiest way is to take 3-4 cups of frozen cherries and cook them on low heat until the melted ice in them reduces by half. Then, use an immersion blender to break it down. Finally, cook it down some more until it’s close to the consistency of cherry preserves, but not quite as thick. Store it in a mason jar in the fridge until you’re ready to use it. It’s a good topping for yogurt, frozen treats, granola, dark chocolate, or whatever you fancy that might pair well with cherries. Notice that I don’t use any sweetener at all in this. You can use this technique with any frozen fruit–strawberries are my favorite.
- 1/2 small onion, minced
- 2 tsp minced garlic
- 2 T coconut oil (or olive)
- 1 C red wine (or the remains of the marinade)
- 1 1/2 C beef broth
- 1/2 C cherry sauce
- Black pepper to taste
- Honey (optional)
- Saute the onion and garlic in the oil until they start to brown.
- Add the red wine or remaining marinade, beef broth, and cherry sauce.
- Simmer over med-high heat, stirring regularly as it reduces. When the sauce is no longer watery on top as it simmers, take it off the heat.
When the steak is ready, just spoon this over it. There were leftovers from two steaks, so if you want to avoid that, just half the recipe.
I added honey as an optional ingredient above because this sauce is definitely tangy, like a seriously gourmet A-1. The wine is a dry one and the cherries are not sweetened. We like it that way, but I can see that not all folks would. One tsp of honey should be enough to change the flavor profile just enough.
Step 3: Cook the Steak
I spent a large portion of my adult life living as a vegetarian, so I had to learn some things when I committed to staying omnivorous for the rest of my life. One of the first things I learned was–just leave the meat alone. Don’t press on it or poke it or constantly turn it over. Cook it on one side, use tongs to flip it, and cook it on the other side. Then put it on a plate and eat it.
I wanted to grill the steaks, but it’s still a bit chilly in Kentucky, and it was about 9 p.m. by the time I got around to cooking the steak. So, I used a cast iron grill pan. A wonderful, wonderful gadget that is not always the most fun thing to clean.
How long you cook a steak depends entirely on its thickness and your taste for level of doneness. I like a medium steak, so I generally cook an average steak about 5 minutes on each side. These steaks happened to be super thin, so about a minute on each side would have done it. 2-3 minutes left it a little past medium, and well-done on the edges.
On the Side…
Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Harissa: I took 2 C of orange and purple sweet potatoes cut into 1-inch cubes, and tossed them in about 1 T of coconut oil. Then, I sprinkled them with salt and about 2 tsp or so of harissa–the spice mix, not the paste–and roasted them in the oven for 20-25 minutes, until they were fork tender and a little crispy on the outside. If you haven’t had harissa, it’s basically a hot and smoky spice with chili pepper, cumin, garlic, paprika, and coriander, among other things. It’s amazing.
Steamed Broccoli: As simple as it gets. Put some broccoli florets in a steamer basket, sprinkle with salt, and let it go until the stalks are something like al dente, or fork-tender if you like them a little more done. I like some snap to my broccoli.
Sauteed Kale: I was in the mood for greens, so I went with the simplest prep so I could savor the yummy kale flavor. Put about a tsp of coconut (or olive) oil in a sautee pan and add about a tsp of minced garlic. When the garlic starts to brown, add in the kale (I used a full 5-oz package of organic baby kale). Let that crisp for just a couple of minutes, then splash a little beef broth and apple cider vinegar in at the end. You won’t need much of either, just enough to finish the cooking process.
This was a big hit at our house. I’ll probably make bison steak again, but I’ll be locally sourcing that from now on, because this week I discovered Woodland Farm, which is near Louisville. Since I drive that way at least once a month, I think it’ll be worth a detour to pick up some sustainably-raised, grass-fed bison steak, ribs, roast, or anything else they have fresh from the farm. My mouth is watering already, thinking about all the possibilities in store for bison soup bones!