Punjene tikvice

Adapted from LMU München. Serves 4-6. Step by step photos and video here.

Ingredients:

  • 2 small onions, minced
  • 500 g ground bison (sub for beef)
  • 4 tablespoons oil
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 70 – 80 g rice (uncooked)
  • Salt, pepper, “Vegeta” seasoning, paprika
  • 4 tomatoes
  • 4 zucchini, halved lengthwise
  • Potato slices for closing the zucchini (optional)
  • 150 mL white wine
  • 200 mL tomato puree
  • 2 tbsp. ketchup
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp. sour cream
  • 150 g. Trappista cheese (or gouda)

Directions:

  1. Filling: Fry the 3/4 of the onion (minced carrot optional) in oil. Add the meat, then the wine, season with salt and pepper, and stir. Cook until the liquid evaporates. Add the tomato puree, ketchup, 2 dL of water, and simmer over medium heat for 20 minutes.
  2. Zucchini: While the filling cooks, cut in half and scrape out the seeds from the zucchinis with a small spoon until you have a boat. Save the insides for later. Blanche the zucchini in salted water for 3 minutes each. While this is blanching, take the reserved zucchini innards, chop them fine, then add half of it to the meat sauce. 
  3. Salsa: Peel the tomatoes, chop it fine. Sauté it in olive oil and 1/4 of the onion and garlic. Add spices to taste. This “salsa” is finished after cooking 15-20 minutes.
  4. Roux: In a separate bowl, whisk 1 egg and 2 tbsp. sour cream and some Vegeta seasoning.
  5. Layer the tomato sauce in the bottom of the baking pan. Then place the zucchini on top. Fill each zucchini half-full with the meat and cap off with a thin slice of potato (optional). Pour 2-3 tbsp. of roux over each. Sprinkle with the grated cheese.
  6. Bake at 200 deg. C (392 deg. F) for 20-30 minutes, until a golden color is achieved.

There were many suggestions from the PhD student who shared this recipe that varied from the original recipe, like adding raw rice to the meat (like arroz con pollo), which we did do, along with diced bacon, which we did not. Their roux also involved heating 50 ml of oil, then adding flour spoonful by spoonful until a pudding consistency is achieved (~ 15 seconds), as well as a half a teaspoon of paprika, while the faux roux we did was much easier. The zucchini in the other recipe was cooked in a pot of boiling water, so that the water didn’t touch the inside filling, but sort of steam cooked it? Which was confusing, so baking it seemed much more straightforward.

Serbian stuffed zucchini is not anything I’ve had the privilege to try before, but it looked like all ingredients I would be into. We used one big red onion instead of two small white onions because it was on sale, and is healthier, but then I forgot to reserve some for the tomato sauce. We used ground bison instead of beef, Roasted Chicken Base instead of Vegeta, vinho verde instead of white wine, did not have tomato puree, and used leftover cheddar and Monterrey Jack cheese instead of Trappista cheese. Phew! We barely finished it in time before 8pm Pub Trivia virtual, and I blame the line at Hannaford market. Not as much a hit as the chili and soup this week, but still excellent.

~Jessica

Butter-basted bison ribeye steak with with crispy potatoes and roasted garlic

IMG_20180506_184215.jpg

Adapted from Serious Eats and Food & Wine and Red Cedar Bison Ranch

Ingredients:
8 oz. boneless bison ribeye
fresh parsley, chopped
rosemary and thyme, chopped
salt & fresh cracked pepper, to taste
unsalted butter
olive oil
clove of garlic
3 red potatoes

Directions:

  1. Remove meat from freezer, defrost for 30+ minutes. Meanwhile, place potatoes in a medium pot, cover with water, season with salt, and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce to a simmer and cook until tender, about 8-10 minutes total. Drain and set aside.
  2. Finely chop thyme and rosemary. Cut cooled potatoes into quarters.
  3. Preheat your cast iron or non-stick pan on high heat. Coat with a thin layer of oil. Salt and pepper the meat liberally, then place in the pan just as the oil starts to smoke. Let it sear on the high heat for about 4 minutes. Do not move the meat!
  4. Turn steak once using tongs to flip. Continue cooking on medium-high heat for about another 3 minutes for a perfect medium steak, 2 minutes for rare.
  5. Add 3 tablespoons butter, garlic, whole rosemary sprigs, and whole thyme sprigs to the skillet and continue to cook, flipping steak occasionally, and basting any light spots with foaming butter. To baste, tilt pan slightly so that butter collects by the pan’s handle. Use a spoon to pick up butter and pour it over steak.
  6. Let meat rest 15 minutes before slicing. Return skillet to medium-high heat and add remaining butter. When foaming subsides, add potatoes, cut-side down. Cook, shaking pan occasionally, until potatoes are deep golden brown and crisp, about 8 minutes. Add chopped rosemary and thyme, season with salt and pepper, and toss to coat potatoes. Cook, tossing and stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  7. Transfer potatoes to a serving platter with a slotted spoon, leaving excess fat behind. Increase heat to high until leftover fat is smoking. Pour over resting steak. Discard garlic, rosemary, and thyme sprigs. Place steak on serving platter and serve immediately, garnished with fresh parsley.

The last of my precious upstate NY bison acquisition from my much-deserved Spring Break in Montreal. I overcooked the last bison steak, so this one had to be medium-rare for sure. If I had time and space, I would definitely roast a head of garlic in foil for 1 hour on 350 deg F. They’re utterly delightful — I still remember my first time at the tapas restaurant in Ithaca, Just a Taste.

~Jessica

Bison strip loin steaks

IMG_20180422_183840.jpgAdapted from Sayers Brook Bison Farm and The Bison Council and North Fork Bison

Ingredients:
vegetable oil
sea salt
black freshly ground peppercorns
butter
4 large shallots
2 garlic cloves, chopped
thyme leaves crushed from 2 sprigs
button mushrooms (optional)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. In a large skillet, heat 2 teaspoon of oil on medium-high. Add steaks and season with salt and pepper or your favorite herb.
  3. Sear on high heat for 1½ – 2.5 minutes per side (top and bottom only!). Set aside meat for a moment.
  4. Add mushrooms to the pan is smoking. Cook, about 10 minutes or until a pleasing golden colour. Add thyme and garlic, salt and pepper. Add butter, shallots, and peppercorns to cast iron skillet, and sauté until browned and caramelized. Stir often to prevent burning.
  5. Transfer meat to an oven-safe pan and roast 3-4 minutes.
  6. Rest for 5-10 minutes under tin foil. Serve with carbohydrates of your choice (I used Giovanni Rana spinach & ricotta ravioli).

~Jessica

P.S. I overcooked mine so it wa tough and barely edible, although flavorful. Next time I would only sear 1.5 minutes per side, and only top and bottom, not the sides, then I would only roast at 375 deg F for four minutes total, not four minutes per side and flip. Revised above to save you the trouble!

Seared bison sirloin steaks

IMG_20180414_194310.jpg

You can see we had to de-activate the smoke alarm in the background, because of all that sizzle.

Adapted from Marcus Samuelsson, Red Cedar Bison Ranch, and The Bison Council

Ingredients:
0.5 lbs of bison sirloin (purchased here!)
olive oil and butter
salt and cracked pepper
1 garlic clove, crushed
thyme

Directions:
Defrost frozen bison meat at room temperature for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 400 deg F. Season both sides generously with salt and freshly cracked black pepper. Add enough oil to cover the bottom of the pan.

Once you see light wisps of smoke rise from the pan, place the meat in the pan and sear 1 minute per side, making sure not to move the meat around too much, which prevents that delicious crust from forming.

Once seared on all sides, remove pan from heat. Add your crushed clove of garlic to the pan and thyme, rosemary, or sage. Add more olive oil if needed. Add butter, tilt the pan and baste the steak using the melted butter.

Place pan directly into the oven and cook for an additional 4-5 minutes for medium-rare, or until the internal temperature reads 120 degrees F.

Most important: Remove steaks from the pan and allow them to rest at least ten minutes.

The story to acquiring bison meat: I was visiting my Italian friend who I knew in Germany as she was doing a postdoc in Montreal, Canada. To get to and from, I booked rideshares from kangaride because it was cheaper and faster than bus, train, or plane. My driver on the way back back to NYC happened to know of a little bison farm. So we stopped by and I picked up every frozen cut of meat that wasn’t bison burger. And hence, this meal. Bison meat is leaner than beef, and definitely not a product of the meat industry. Bon appetit!

~Jessica