Buffalo, despite having become entrenched in American society on numerous levels, has been voted off the island. When referring to the “American buffalo,” we are now encouraged to use the word bison in place of buffalo. Apparently, the name buffalo was given to the animal by French fur trappers who thought they looked like boeufs (oxen). What’s really strange about the misnomer is that there are bison in Europe that look very much like their American cousins, the wisent. Maybe the French fur trappers had never met a wisent? Or maybe they were just too concerned about being attacked by all the giant beavers.
Either way, the name stuck, and now we are tasked with the duty of unsticking it. Merci beaucoup, les Voyageurs! It may not help that I use both names pretty much interchangeably when discussing the topic. I’m part French; I can’t help it!
- 1 pound ground bison
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 2-4 challah buns
- 4 slices pepperjack cheese
- 2 tsp mustard
- 1 onion, sliced
- 1 Tbsp butter to fry the onion in
Bison Cheeseburger Recipe: Pan-Fried in Butter, Served on a Challah Bun with Fried Onions and Pepperjack Cheese
- Mix the ground bison meat with some salt and pepper. Bison meat has a very subtle flavor that can be masked and hidden by over-seasoning your ground bison. In general, I am not a big fan of using a lot of strong flavors when cooking meat.This goes double for hamburgers. That’s not to say I don’t like stuff on my burgers. I want my patty to taste like meat and not like Worcestershire sauce, eggs, or anything else.
- Form the ground bison meat into patties. Thoroughly mix the salt and pepper into the ground bison. Try to get the salt and pepper spread evenly throughout without mixing it too much. Over-mixing will result in stringy meat that is more like paste than ground meat. It should take less than a minute to get the salt and pepper mixed in. Forming the meat into patties should give you 4 patties for every 1 pound of ground bison.
- Heat up a nonstick frying pan over medium-high heat and melt a tablespoon of butter in it. For pan frying hamburgers, I like to use a nonstick pan. But for the fried onions I serve on top, I use a regular pan—a “stick pan,” if you will. This way, I can deglaze them with sherry and make a very tasty burger topping. I like to fry my burgers over relatively high heat (medium-high), so that I can achieve maximum browning on the outside without overcooking the inside.
- Flip the bison burgers over to fry the other side. After a couple minutes on the first side, the burger should be ready to flip. It may also be getting a little smoky in the kitchen. Smoke, as I have said before, is a byproduct of cooking. Get used to it. While the burger cooks on the second side, ready a digital thermometer to check the internal temperature. Rare burgers should be 125 degrees, mediums should be 140, and for you sadists who like well done, 160 is the magic number (all degrees in Fahrenheit).
Tips & Tricks
- Don’t use the spatula to push down on the burgers while they cook unless you like dried-out, nasty, briquette-like burgers.
- Make sure to leave plenty of space between the burgers as they cook. Overcrowding doesn’t allow space for things to fry. Instead, you just end up with boiled burgers . . . which is kind of gross.
- Always use a Teflon-safe spatula for flipping burgers in a nonstick pan.
- Don’t mix eggs, oatmeal, or onions into your burgers—this ain’t meatloaf!
- Finish extra-thick burgers in the oven, or turn the heat down and cover with a lid.
- Challah buns are made from a slightly sweet egg dough. Very tasty. Challah bread also makes great French toast.
Any of the following ingredients will make for great toppings on bison cheeseburgers. Raw onions, Lettuce, Tomato, Pickle, Hot peppers, Fried mushrooms, Swiss, Cheddar, Ketchup, and Mayonnaise