La Terre des Bisons in Rawdon www.terredesbisons.com
Definitely a good, local alternative to feedlot beef for the BBQ. Very beefy, lean but quite tender, tasty; I can’t imagine any meat lover not loving it.
The only red meat I normally serve at the restaurant is venison (cerf rouge) because we have a direct source on the property – a farm two steps away, a small production with the finest quality. I loved Cerf de Boileau when I was at L’Eau à la Bouche (or dining out, it is ‘the’ cerf on top restaurant menus) – a terrific product and the leader in Quebec, but believe it or not, I don’t miss it. With such a fine meat in my hands from next door, I never saw the point of bringing in bison, no matter how much I want to encourage local producers.
We generally get a venison carcass or two a month, depending on the month. But for most of the summer now, we have been cut off because there were no animals ready for slaughter.. So for my menus, I did lamb, duck, duck, duck and duck, pintade, quail, and more lamb… I loved the change up, but it came time for some red meat, and like I said, I have always wanted to encourage La Terre des Bisons. Now, without my regular supply, I finally had a good excuse to put Bison on my menu.
The customers loved it. Not more than venison though. They are both delectable but just very different meats. The bison is just like the very best beef. It screamed out for a marinade and grill treatment. Even a zesty sauce. Whereas I see farmed venison to be more subtle. Ours is delicate and tender, ‘tres fin’. I never marinate my venison. I like to leave it au naturel, deglaze and use the pan juices, serve a tasty sauce yes, but not overdo it for the sake of the meat. This might surprise you. Everyone thinks that venison is gamey, and so needs a big sauce and a big wine. Maybe hunted deer which has an indeterminate life and diet, but not our venison. Speaking wine, I say it calls out for a soft red, a deep burgundy or Pinot noir, or at best an old Bordeaux (with more Merlot than Cab), depending on the preparation. With Bison, I would let you go all out with a younger, fruitier, more extracted and oaked wine – a Meritage, even a juicy Zin..
As I pick hairs discussing the finer points of Bison vs. Venison, comparing the two meats with wine parallels, I don’t want you to lose the point. That is, that Bison is delicious; even if a notch below good venison in my books, it is a stellar local product and a smart choice. Naturally raised, pastured, lean, local, and so importantly more healthy and tasty (and better for the environment) than your average protein. Realizing how many people are slapping big pieces of meat from the superstore on their BBQ’s these days, I only wish that bison or venison from local producers could meet backyard menus, as opposed to feedlot beef from Costco.