Barbecued Buffalo Burgers

BBQ season is upon us and Buffalo Burgers are a great way to get started.

Looking for something different to throw on the grill, a friend of mine suggested a switch from the “same old – same old” ground beef to a local favourite, bison meat.

Bison meat is high in protein and contains less fat and fewer calories than skinless chicken breast … which I find quite surprising.

It is readily available in local outlets in a wide variety of cuts much like beef: T-bone steaks, tenderloin, roasts and (the one we’ll be cooking today) ground bison.

For those of you who haven’t been using your barbecues during the winter months, it’s time to pull off the cover, refill your propane tank and replace any tools that may have mysteriously disappeared since last summer.

As you would do every time you use the barbecue, clean the grill. The way to do this is to bring the grill to a high heat for one minute, then reduce the heat to low. Use a wire brush to remove any residue. With a brush or paper towel, apply a light coating of vegetable or olive oil.

Select ground bison that is approximately 15 to 20-per-cent fat if possible. If there is too little fat, your burgers might not stick together very well. If there is too much fat, they will be overly greasy.

Now, everybody talks about “quarter pounders”; they don’t talk about “eighth kilogramers”; so for simplicity let’s use pounds.

OK, so a pound of bison burger will make somewhere between four and eight patties, depending on the demands of the consumers.

Using a large bowl, preferably glass or pyrex, mix the pound of burger with an egg. The egg helps hold it all together. If your meat is a bit too wet or too greasy, add a handful of bread crumbs which will absorb the excess moisture or fat. Everything else is a matter of personal preference.

Invent your own secret combination of ingredients which may or may not include, and are not limited to, various amounts of the following: chopped onion, minced cloves of garlic, Tabasco or Worcestershire sauce, mustard, ketchup and spices such as Taco or Cajun seasoning, steak spice and ground black pepper.

Just keep in mind the mixture should not be overly wet. If you get carried away, it’s never too late to throw in a handful of bread crumbs.

To cook a basic buffalo burger, bring the grill to medium-high heat. Cook the patties for three minutes (just leave them sit, don’t poke and prod them with your fancy barbecue tools).

Then flip them over and cook them for three minutes on the other side. Again, just let them sit. While they are cooking, leave the cover closed.

Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for five to seven minutes per side. This produces a medium-well done burger. Adjust the cooking time to suit individual tastes.

Serve the patties on lightly toasted buns (use the top rack on your barbecue) and lightly spread with mayonnaise. Add slices of tomato, red onion and cheese and top with a crunchy piece of lettuce.

Remember to buy locally when in season.

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