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Alberta Bison Tartare With Smoked Oyster Sauce & Prairie Sage Crackers

By former Executive Chef at River Café, Andrew Winfield

As I come from the prairies, local bison and grains have always been essential ingredients in my kitchen.

Andrew Winfield

Andrew Winfield

This recipe combines the two in an untraditional way and is a lazy Sunday favourite at my house—great for hot summer days when you don’t want to spend a lot of time in the kitchen. The tartare is quick and simple, and the prairie sage crackers can be made well ahead of time. The addition of the smoked oyster sauce really makes the dish shine. So does the naturally raised grass-fed bison I use—which, for more than a decade, I have sourced exclusively from Olson’s High Country Bison Farm. Tom Olson and his family now operate four ranches on the Prairies, where they are dedicated to restoring the natural fescue in the most traditional, sustainable way—by ranging bison. The quality of the meat is beyond any other bison I have tasted. If you can’t find Olson’s, be sure to make the dish with the best bison available.

– Andrew Winfield

INGREDIENTS

Crackers:

  • 480 mL (2 cups) red fife flour
  • 110 g (4 oz) cold butter, cubed
  • 1 tbsp organic beet (or other quality) sugar
  • 2 tbsp flax seeds
  • 1 tbsp minced sage
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • Coarse sea salt

Sauce:

  • 60 mL (¼ cup) olive oil
  • Juice of 1 lemon • 40 g (1½ oz) drained smoked oysters
  • 2 anchovy filets, drained
  • ½ tbsp capers
  • 240 mL (1 cup) aioli or mayonnaise

Tartare:

  • 125 g (about ¼ lb) trimmed bison sirloin
  • 1 tbsp capers
  • 1 tbsp minced shallots
  • 1 tbsp minced chives
  • 1 tbsp minced parsley
  • ½ tbsp grainy mustard
  • 1 tsp minced chipotle in adobo
  • Black pepper
METHOD

Makes
4 Servings

To make the crackers, combine flour and butter in the bowl of a stand mixer and mix with a paddle on low speed until the mixture forms pea-sized balls— about two or three minutes. Add 150 mL (½ cup + 2 tbsp) ice cold water, the sugar, flax and sage. Once combined, stop mixer and empty contents onto a work surface. Divide into four. Roll each portion into a ball, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and rest in the refrigerator for a minimum of one hour (and up to a day). To finish, preheat the oven to 175°C (350°F). Sprinkle a work surface with flour, and roll each ball into a thin sheet. Transfer each to a large cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Dock dough with a fork, brush with egg, and sprinkle with salt. Bake until golden brown and crisp—10 to 15 minutes. Set aside.

To make the sauce, combine olive oil, lemon juice, oysters, anchovies and capers in a blender. Process until smooth. Transfer to a mixing bowl. Fold in aioli (or mayonnaise), then thin by whisking in 2 tbsp of cold water. Set aside in the refrigerator.

Before making the tartare, note that the meat should be minced and combined with seasonings only at the last possible moment—and always kept cold. Using a very sharp knife, mince bison and transfer to a chilled mixing bowl. Add capers, shallots, chives, parsley, mustard, chipotle and a generous pinch of salt and pepper. Taste and correct seasonings.

To finish, arrange four portions of tartare on four chilled plates dressed with oyster sauce. Arrange biscuits alongside, and—if desired—garnish with chives or edible flowers

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