When Paul and Donna from the Varmints! podcast asked me to come up with a recipe to pair with their episode about buffalo, how could I say no?! Bison is easily accessible in regular grocery stores these days and, being already ground, is ridiculously easy to prep, unlike that delicious rabbit I made for Easter dinner. Plus, what’s more decidedly American than a slider? Native Americans have eaten bison for centuries, even before the “America” existed. I’m assuming both Paul and Donna said they’d totally eat bison, and I hope both of them already have, because it’s delicious! So what did I come up with? BBQ Bison Sliders!
If you like to be nice to animals while still wanting to eat them, bison meat is an excellent choice; bison are raised more humanely than most beef cattle. You’ll never find growth hormones used in bison, as it’s prohibited by the USDA.
It’s also lower in fat and higher in protein than regular beef, giving you a flavorful, slightly sweet, nutrient dense meat.
How to Keep It Moist
Bison meat is much leaner than beef, so you never want to cook it past medium. Because of it’s lack of fat, it also cooks much faster than beef, so the best way to avoid overcooking is to use a scorching hot cast iron skillet and just sear them for no more than 2 minutes per side for sliders. This, after a brief rest period, will bring them to medium, keeping them juicy and tender.
The Recipe: BBQ Bison Sliders on Plantain Buns
This bison sliders recipe is actually really easy. You might think making plantain buns would be complicated, but they’re definitely not! This is the tostones method, which makes baked plantain chips crispy, but the cooking time is shortened so you get a tender bite that holds together without crumbling. All you need is two plantains, olive oil spray, kosher salt, ground bison, sliced cheese and your favorite barbecue sauce.
First, the plantain buns for the bison sliders! Preheat your oven to 425 degrees and line a cookie sheet with foil. Spray the foil liberally with the olive oil spray, then prep the plantains. You want medium ripe plantains so that they’re easy to peel but not too ripe. Peel each plantain and cut into 8 even pieces. Take each piece, lay it between plastic wrap and gently smoosh it flat.
Carefully peel each slice off and lay out on the foil. Spray the exposed sides of the plantains with more olive oil spray and sprinkle with salt. Bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown, flipping once. Set a cast iron skillet on high heat and prep your bison and cheese. Cut two cheese slices into 4 squares and set aside, then divide the bison evenly into 8 pieces. Gently, very gently, mold the bison into sliders without using too much pressure. Once your skillet is screamin’ hot, set those sliders in and DON’T TOUCH THEM for 90 seconds to 2 minutes, TOPS. Then gently flip and cook another 90 seconds. Remove from the heat and allow to rest for 3-5 minutes. Then top with a slice of cheese. Lastly, for each serving, lay down two plantain slices and squirt on a little barbecue sauce. Top with a slider, some more sauce, and finish with another plantain slice. Serve your bison sliders alongside your favorite cheeseburger sides. I INHALED my sliders: they were THAT good. The bison meat is complemented by the barbecue sauce and cheese and slight sweetness of the plantain. You really need to try these!
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- 2 large plantains, medium ripeness (between green and black)
- olive oil cooking spray
- kosher salt
- 1 lb. ground bison
- 4 tbsp. barbecue sauce
- 2 slices ultra thin colby jack cheese
- Preheat your oven to 425F degrees. Prep a cookie sheet by covering it with foil or parchment and spraying it liberally with olive oil cooking spray.
- Choose plantains that are between totally green and totally black: you want a deep yellow with black spots. Peel each plantain and cut each into 8 even pieces, for 16 pieces total.
- Lay each piece of plantain between two pieces of plastic wrap and, with a plate or flat cup, gently press flat. Carefully peel each piece off of the plastic wrap and lay on the cookie sheet. Spray the exposed sides with cooking spray and sprinkle with kosher salt. Bake for 30 minutes, flipping once.
- While the "buns" are baking, preheat a cast iron skillet until it is screamin' hot. Cut your cheese slices into 4 pieces each and set aside. Divide your ground bison into 8 portions and gently mold into thick patties, being careful not to overwork the meat. Drop each slider into the searing hot skillet and DO NOT TOUCH IT for 90 seconds up to 2 minutes MAX. Gently flip them over and wait patiently for another 90 seconds. Remove from the heat and let rest for 3-5 minutes.
- Remove the plantains from the oven. They should be cooked through and firm but still pliable and not hard.
- Top each burger with a piece of cheese. For each serving, lay down two slices of plantain, add a squirt of barbecue sauce, top with a slider, more sauce, and top each with an additional slice of plantain. Serve with your favorite burger sides: mine are served with Daikon Radish Fries.