Spicy Bison Bolognese


You might be scratching your head… Bison? Bolognese? How does any of this sound appetizing? Let me just tell you- I haven’t eaten anything this delicious and satisfying in quite some time. This recipe is as easy as it is healthy and flavorful. You must give it a try!

You guessed it right. Bison, otherwise known as the American buffalo, is the big, hairy, scary-looking animal that lives and frolics across the plains of North America. If you’ve ever visited Yellowstone in Wyoming, you’ve probably seen this giant grazing in the grass. Bison is known as “the other red meat.” It is high in protein, low in fat, and much, much leaner than cattle, making it a great choice for the health conscientious meat eater. I found bison at my nearest Whole Foods Market.

Another reason this bolognese is so delicious is because the flavors are all across the board. The heat from the red pepper flakes compliments the subtle, sweet warmth from the cinnamon, sending your taste buds on a crazy ride. Bolognese is Italian for ragu and just like any traditional ragu, it cooks low and slow until it thickens and heavily coats the pasta. I think you’ll love this healthy take on a traditional, Italian recipe.

For this recipe you will need:

2 Tbsp olive oil

1 onion, small dice

2 celery ribs, small dice

1 large carrot, small dice

1 lb. ground bison

1/4 tsp red pepper flakes

1/4 tsp sea salt

1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

1 Tbsp tomato paste

1/3 cup dry red wine

1 can crushed tomatoes

1 bay leaf

1 tsp fresh Thyme, chopped

1/8 tsp ground cinnamon

Water, as needed

1 lb pasta (any kind you prefer)

Fresh Italian parsley, chopped


Begin by heating 2 Tbsp olive oil in a large sauteuse pan and sauté the onion, celery, and carrot over medium-high heat until tender, about 8-10 minutes. Sprinkle with a generous pinch of salt. Add the ground bison and season with red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Cook the meat until it is browned.

Add the tomato paste to the pan and pincé, or cook it out, to give it more of a mellow taste and add some depth to the dish. Deglaze the pan with the red wine and reduce by half, another 5 minutes or so. Next, add the crushed tomatoes, bay leaf, chopped thyme, ground cinnamon, and about 1 cup of water. Give everything a big stir and bring to a strong simmer. Once the bolognese has reached a simmer, turn the heat down to medium low and allow it cook slowly. Add more water and allow it to cook off as this is where the flavors develop. Stir and taste frequently! Cook for about 2-2.5 hours.

During the last 30 minutes of the cooking process, bring a large pot of SALTY water to a boil. *Remember: pasta water should be salty like the sea.* Cook the pasta until al dente. Remove 1/2 cup of the pasta water and set aside. Transfer the pasta with a slotted spoon directly into the bolognese, allowing some of the starchy pasta water to loosen up and enhance the bolognese. If your bolognese needs more liquid, simply add more of the reserved pasta water.

Garnish the bolognese with freshly chopped Italian parsley and fresh parmesan. Bon Appetit!

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