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The Ultimate Bison Tailgate

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Bison connoisseurs Corey Harris and John Russell share their recipes for an unforgettable tailgate menu.

By Caroline Khoury, Photos by JoJo Marion, Styling by Andrea Doyle

It’s time for a little change up this year with a healthier tailgating recipe. Not to worry; those beloved hot dogs will still be in abundance, but instead of regular hot dogs made from those unidentified meats, try adding bison hot dogs and burgers to the menu. This healthier and tastier bison meat is the latest obsession for red meat lovers. Master connoisseurs John Russell and Corey Harris created this mouth-watering menu exclusively for ATX Man.

After retiring as a pilot for Southwest Airlines, Russell purchased a small ranch in San Saba and started raising strictly grass-fed bison. As opposed to grain-fed bison or cattle, which are usually raised in a confined space called a feedlot, grass-fed bison makes for the healthiest type of meat.

“Most bison you’re going to find at a grocery store has come out of a feedlot where they eat grain. The problem is when you have animals that are kept in the feedlot, they start to develop all sorts of sicknesses. So they have to have antibiotics administered to them,” Russell says.

The Illinois native now owns two bison ranches in Colorado and New Mexico with conditions better suited for the mighty animal. With intentions to sell his bison for food production, Russell founded High Country Bison and also invested in a food trailer to use at Austin farmers markets and other events.

“The biggest event we’ve worked is the Austin Powwow, where we sell our buffalo burgers, our famous buffalo green chile cheese burgers and our 100-percent bison hot dogs,” Russell says.

The other half of this masterful duo, Harris is the main intelligence behind the recipes. With a background as a pastry chef, Harris has won awards for her recipes.

“I think John and I both feel we’re lucky because we do complement each other and what we’re doing,” Harris says. “My passion is food and his passion is really working with the animals. And his animals are very well taken care of.”

Visit the High Country Bison trailer at the Barton Creek Farmers Market and Lone Star Farmers Market or email them at

Apple Hatch Bison Meatballs with Smoky Hatch Blue Corn Grits

2008 Winner of the Central Market Hatch Chile Contest


  • 1 1/2 pounds ground bison meat
  • 1 cup Central Market roasted hatch poblano pesto
  • 4 roasted mild or hot hatch chiles, seeded and chopped
  • 1 granny smith apple, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon fresh sage, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh mint, finely chopped
  • 1 cup pecans, toasted and ground
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Oil for sautéing

Directions: In a mixing bowl, combine all ingredients thoroughly except oil. Make desired size of meatballs. Cover and refrigerate. Heat oil in a large non-stick pan over medium-high heat. Sauté meatballs in batches until well browned on all sides. Be careful not to overcook. Serve with Smoky Hatch Blue Corn Grits.

Smoky Hatch Blue Corn Grits


  • 1 quart water
  • 1 1/2 cups Arrowhead Mills Organic Blue Cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup smoked Gouda, grated
  • 1/2 cup Central Market hatch green chile Jack cheese, grated
  • 1/4 cup cream
  • 3 tablespoons butte
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Green onions, chopped for garnish
  • Tomatoes, diced for garnish
  • Fresh corn kernels, for garnish

Directions: In a heavy saucepan, bring water to a boil. While whisking, add cornmeal in a steady stream to boiling water. Lower heat so mixture simmers slowly rather than boils. Using a wooden spoon, continue to stir. Cook until grits are thick and grains are tender, approximately 20 minutes. During the last five minutes of cooking, stir in cheeses, cream and butter. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately with Apple Hatch Bison Balls. Garnish with chopped green onions, diced tomatoes and fresh corn kernels.

Boilermaker’s Bison Chili


  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 2 cups onion, chopped
  • 3 pounds ground bison
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 3 tablespoons chili powder, preferably hot New Mexico chili powder
  • 1 cup bourbon
  • 1/2 bottle of beer (sip the other half while cooking)
  • 2 15-ounce cans pinto beans
  • 2 14 1/2-oounce cans diced tomatoes
  • Salt to taste

Directions: In large heavy-bottom pot over medium-high heat, add oil. Add onions, garlic and bison meat. Cook until meat is nicely browned and add cumin, chili powder and salt. Cover pot and cook about 10 minutes. Stir in bourbon and beer and continue cooking for about 30 minutes. Stir in tomatoes and beans, lower heat and simmer for two hours.

Pulled Bison BBQ Brisket on Cornmeal Buttermilk Biscuits


  • 3 to 4 pounds bison brisket
  • 6 slices of bacon
  • 1 large onion, halved and sliced
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon each salt, freshly ground pepper, garlic powder, Mexican ground red chile
  • 1 (12 ounces) bottle beer
  • 2 cups beef broth, wine or water
  • 1/2 cup barbecue sauce

Directions: Rub the bison brisket with salt, pepper, garlic powder and Mexican chile. Set aside. In a large heavy-bottom Dutch oven, cook bacon over medium heat just enough to render fat. Remove bacon from pot (add oil if needed for browning along with bacon fat). Place brisket over medium-high heat and brown on all sides. Remove brisket and add onions, cooking for a few minutes. Place browned brisket back in pan and add liquid and bay leaves. Top brisket with barbecue sauce and bacon. Cover. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and continue to cook until meat is fork-tender, approximately four to five hours. Baste and turn meat occasionally to keep moist. Once meat is cooked, let sit in broth for an hour to cool. Shred brisket, adding a little meat juice and your favorite barbecue sauce. Serve in cornmeal buttermilk biscuits with smoky paprika slaw. For tailgating: Put prepared meat in aluminum pan or iron skillet and place on grill to heat.

Cornmeal Buttermilk Biscuits

Yield: Approximately 36 medium-sized biscuits.


  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 cups Stoneground cornmeal
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons Kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) cold butter, cut into small pieces
  • 8 tablespoons shortening
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
  • 1 egg with 1 tablespoon of water for egg wash
  • Freshly ground pepper

Directions: Mix together dry ingredients. Add butter and shortening. Mix well (I use my hands) until you have small pea-sized pieces of butter and shortening. Add buttermilk and mix. Do not overwork the dough. Wrap dough in plastic and chill for an hour. Roll dough on floured board to 3/4-inch thickness and cut into biscuits. Place on baking sheet. Chill biscuits again for at least 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Before baking, brush biscuits with egg wash and freshly ground pepper. Bake approximately 25 minutes.

Smoked Paprika Slaw for 100-percent bison hot dogs

Directions: Whisk together in a bowl: 1 cup mayonnaise, 2 tablespoons sugar, 2 tablespoons cider vinegar, 2 teaspoons black pepper, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon dry mustard and 2 teaspoons smoked paprika. Toss dressing with 5 cups shredded red and green cabbage. Add chopped fresh parsley (optional). Thaw dogs and grill for about five minutes, then top with the slaw!

The 411 on Bison

  • Bison spend most of their lives feeding on grass, so they are not subject to drugs, hormones or chemicals.
  • Bison meat has fewer calories and less cholesterol than chicken or fish.
  • Bison are the only mammals to not get cancer.
  • Bison has 40 percent more protein than beef, so you can eat 1/3 less volume and still be satisfied.
  • Eating 5 ounces of bison three to four times per week can help most people reduce LDL cholesterol 40 to 45 percent within six months.

Compiled from the National Bison Association.



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