Monday, August 25, 2014

Shiitake and Onion Bison Burgers

We're always trying to eat healthy, even though we still want our cakes, cookies and burgers. We very big on bison around here. It's supposed to be better for us than beef because it's lower in fat and especially low in saturated fat. I don't find the flavor remarkably different from beef but it's significantly leaner. Often called buffalo, they're in the same family, but they aren't actually buffalo, like the ones in Africa and Asia. There's also good news if you worry about growth hormones and antibiotics because they are not administered to bison.

So when my mom handed me a big bag of shiitake mushrooms, I went on the hunt for a recipe. I found Edison Mays' recipe for Shiitake Mushroom and Sweet Onion Burgers at Food Network. I just switched it up a little bit and made it with bison.

It worked out great. Because bison is lean, it should be cooked over a lower heat than we usually cook beef. Don't let that scare you. You can still grill and pan fry, just like you would hamburger - but turn the heat down and don't grill directly over the flame.

While we're busy being healthy, did you know that shiitake mushrooms are used against cancer in some countries? They contain antioxidants and reduce inflammation. Who knew? The flavor of shiitakes is more pronounced than white or crimini mushrooms but they blend quite nicely with the mushrooms and bison in this recipe.

Shiitake and Onion Bison Burgers
makes five burgers

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 sweet onion, chopped
1 1/2 - 2 cups chopped shiitake mushroom caps
1 large clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon soy sauce
1 pound (16 ounces) ground bison
1-2 tablespoons olive or canola oil

Melt the butter with the olive oil over medium heat and cook the onions until translucent, about five minutes. Add the mushrooms, garlic, and soy sauce, and cook, turning occasionally. The shiitake will shrink substantially. Salt and pepper to taste and remove from heat to cool. When cool, mix with ground beef and shape into burgers. (If desired, you could cover and refrigerate at this point and cook the burgers later in the day.) Heat the additional olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the burgers and cook until you begin to see the sides turning color. Flip. Cook until done.

According to guidelines, salmonella is killed at 160. Others recommend cooking bison to 135 - 155. It's your call.

Serve as is or on a bun.

Cook onions and shiitake mushrooms.
Mix with bison.
Pan fry or grill.

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  1. We have venison instead of bison; my husband hunts on our Kentucky farm every fall, and we butcher and process our own. Your recipe would work equally well with that kind of meat, Krista, I think. It's also extremely low in fat and cholesterol, and tastes very similar to beef without the added antibiotics, etc.

    I have to admit that I've not tried shiitake mushrooms, so this is a good nudge for me to do so. Thank you!

    1. Karen, I love venison. I had trouble cooking it at first because all the recipes overcook it, as though it's tough meat. I'm told that the vegetation in our area (probably the same in Kentucky, I'm in Virginia) makes for very tender, delicate meat. You're so right about it being very natural and lean.

      Shiitakes can take some getting used to. They don't taste like the mushrooms most of us are used to. We like them best with garlic and a splash of soy sauce.

  2. We can get bison around here (I've even bought it at our local farmers' market, and it's said to come from a local source, although I've yet to see a buffalo in the neighborhood), and it is tasty. I've had no problem with overcooking, but then, we like our meat rare (living dangerously!). I bet the shiitake mushrooms hold their own in flavor.

    1. We have a large bison farm nearby. They are huge animals. I can see why they need to be free range. The burgers are better pink, IMHO, but I always feel obligated to give the proper temperature!

  3. I haven't had any idea what to do with bison - these look magnificent. Thanks, Krista.

    Can't wati to try them.



    1. Mary Jane, you can do almost anything you do with beef. Just cook it a little more gently.

  4. My husband adores bison. I'm not a big fan, but maybe with the onions and everything... Hmm. I can be flexible. :) Bison really works for his lean diet.

    Daryl / Avery

    1. I'm surprised that you're not a big fan. I know you like beef. I don't find them very different.

  5. I haven't tried bison yet. I suppose our giant grocery chain, Meijers, might have it or one of the local butchers. Venision is plentiful, but haven't seen bison yet. Can you cook it to medium rare? It sounds like a great alternative to our old standby of turkey burgers (trying not to eat so much red meat). These looks great with the addition of mushrooms and onions! Yum.

  6. Funny story: I was sending my sister a recipe that included shiitake mushrooms via my work computer. Email was banned, and I couldn't figure out why until I realized I'd left the second "i" out of shiitake so the program read it as shit-ake, one of those syllables being a no-no. I've never had bison but now I'm motivated to try it. This looks yummy. Can you cook it medium rare?

    1. Peg, we often eat it medium rare but you know the risks. Of course, I also eat beef medium rare. One of my friends complains that she can't get medium rare beef in restaurants anymore because they're all worried about salmonella! I would think if you buy it from a highly reputable butcher, you're probably okay. We used to eat steak tartare, which is totally raw. I sure wouldn't do *that* with grocery store beef.

      Funny about the missing i! LOL!

  7. Perfect timing for our Labor Day cookout. Have a wonderful weekend, Krista, and thanks for sharing this recipe. I've seen packs of ground bison at our local Costco (good prices). Time to buy them and try this recipe. It looks delicious!

    ~ Cleo