Locally raised bison – Gem Farms in Castleton
People probably wonder where I come up with the irrational impulses for things.
Some time last week, I asked around on social media for a local source for fresh bison. I’ve seen it at the farmers market, but, like a good variety of things at the farmers markets, the price seemed a little high. Oddly enough, the Hannaford near my apartment has been carrying ground bison (which I’ve been buying and loving for burgers), but they don’t stock steaks; I’ve heard that other local supermarkets (including other Hannafords) have both ground and medallions.
But thanks to recommendations on facebook and twitter, I came upon an even better place to source bison.
Gem Farms in Castleton, a mere twenty minutes outside of the city of Albany.
I looked over the prices on the website, and I was definitely intrigued. I went on the first chance that I could this past Saturday.
The farm is tucked away on a side road, but it’s not difficult to find my any means. The first thing you notice on your way in is the live buffalo. They’re such an awesome animal that you’ll probably get distracted by their glory and drive past the store across the street like we almost did.
Inside of the store, there are a number of items that are made from the hide of the buffalo, and there are lots of nods to other local resources. In the back, there are a few large freezers that the people at the counter manage; that’s where the various cuts of bison are stored.
I spent a little over $60 for a decent haul: some flank steak, some sirloin tips, a NY strip steak, and some short ribs.
It all came frozen, so I kept most of it that way but defrosted the short ribs and prepared them the way I like them. I served the braised bison short ribs over cheesy grits and with roasted asparagus, and they were epic (maybe a touch tougher than beef short ribs cooked using the same technique, but with a nice, slow braise, the meat was still tender and easy to eat.)
Circling back to my original point, the reason I sought this out was because bison is a great alternative to beef. If the numbers cited by the National Bison Association (to which Gem Farms is a member) are correct, bison is an even leaner protein source than chicken breast. I am keen on the flavor when prepared properly, as I’ve tried a number of preparations in recent weeks.
There’s a big emphasis on “when prepared properly” because such a lean meat as bison is very easy to overcook, and it’s pretty miserable when it is overcooked.
I think it’s pretty awesome to know that I have such quick access to dazzling, hormone/antibiotic free, grass fed buffalo meat and that it’s all being raised right in the area!