Bison is not usually available around here, so when I saw a bison ribeye I picked it up at once. Great meat like that needs very little, so I decided to only ‘warm age’ it sous-vide, and then quickly pan sear it. As a side I roasted some pink eggplant. It was very simple, but absolutely delicious. You don’t need a sous-vide cooker to prepare this, so read on!
‘Warm aging‘ is a term that I made up for meat that has been aged at the optimal temperatures for the enzymes that do the aging. The usual types of aging are cryovac or wet aging (vacuum sealed at refrigerator temperatures) or dry aging (at refrigerator temperatures). Both will tenderize the meat, dry aging will also add flavor if done long enough. At refrigerator temperatures the enzymes responsible for the tenderizing work very slowly, which is why aging at such temperatures takes weeks. Just below 40ºC/104ºF and 50ºC/122ºF, the calpain and cathepsin enzymes will work much faster. The meat can only be held at such temperatures for a couple of hours. You can think of it as bringing the meat to room temperature in a very warm room ;-) After that, a quick sear in very hot clarified butter will make the steak perfectly medium rare from edge to edge, very tender, and very juicy. As you can see in the picture, the meat is medium rare right to the very edge.
If you don’t have a sous-vide cooker but do have a vacuum sealer (or ziploc pouches and apply the water displacement method), you can obtain a very similar result by heating water to 40ºC/104ºF, turning off the heat, submering the steak in the warm water and covering the pot. After an hour add enough boiling water to raise the temperature to 50ºC/122ºF. The water will cool off a little bit of course, but that will only slow down the warm aging process a little bit as the enzymes will still work (remember, they will even work, very slowly, at refrigerator temperatures). You should use an accurate thermometer, because the enzymes will stop working above the above mentioned temperatures.
salt and freshly ground black pepper
bison stock or beef stock
freshly ground black pepper
Melt some clarified butter in a frying pan and make sure the pan is very hot. Clarified butter doesn’t burn like regular butter, and it provides better browning than oil. As an alternative you could also use rendered bison fat or beef fat.
Wrap the steak in aluminum foil and allow to rest for 5 to 10 minutes. This will bring the center of the steak to about 55ºC/131ºF, i.e. medium rare. You could also tent it with foil if a crispy steak is important to you.
If you timed everything perfectly, the eggplant is now ready to be served. Serve the bison ribeye on warm plates with the sauce and the eggplant. Season the eggplant with freshly ground black pepper (it is already salty), sprinkle with minced parsley and drizzle with a bit of good extra virgin olive oil.
We enjoyed this with a Nero d’Avola from Sicily, a Firriato “Harmonium” 2008. This powerful red was a great match for the bison ribeye. I wish I had bought more bottles of it.
Two years ago I blogged about octopus sous-vide, served cold with roasted peppers. It’s a lot more delicious than this photo suggests.