Bison Tartare with Fry Bread and Pickled Okra
Chef and owner of Restaurant Cochineal, Alexandra Gates is passionate about using local products in her cooking, and one of her favorite choices is grass-fed Thunder Heart bison, which is raised near San Antonio, not too far from her home in Marfa, Texas. She describes it as “probably the best, most delicious meat I’ve ever had” – so good that it’s best appreciated raw, as in this luscious tartare, which she sometimes serves at her restaurant with house-made Native American fry bread. If you can’t find bison tenderloin, grass-fed beef tenderloin makes a good substitute.
For the pickled okra (optional):
- 1 lb. (500 g) okra
- 2 cups (16 fl. oz./500 ml) distilled white vinegar
- 1 Tbs. kosher salt
- 1 Tbs. sugar
For the bison tartare:
- 1 lb. (500 g) bison tenderloin or grass-fed beef tenderloin
- 1 Tbs. whole-grain Dijon mustard
- 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tsp. Bragg liquid aminos
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
- 2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 Tbs. capers
- 4 to 6 cornichons, coaresely chopped
- 2 to 3 Tbs. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 egg yolk
For the garlic sauce:
- 2 garlic heads
- Extra-virgin olive oil for drizzling
- Sea salt and freshly ground white pepper
- 1 cup (8 fl. oz./250 ml) Duke’s mayonnaise
- 1 Tbs. Dijon mustard
For the fry bread:
- 1 1/4 cups (10 fl. oz./310 ml) warm water (about 110°F/43°C)
- 1 1/4 tsp. active dry yeast
- 3 1/2 cups (17 1/2 oz./545 g) bread flour, plus more for dusting
- 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
- Canola oil for frying
At least one day before serving the bison tartare, make the pickled okra. Put the okra in a heatproof nonreactive bowl. In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the vinegar, salt and sugar. Heat, stirring occasionally, until the salt and sugar dissolve. Pour the mixture over the okra and stir to combine. Let sit at room temperature until the liquid cools completely. Transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate overnight or up to 1 week.
To make the bison tartare, place the bison in the freezer for about 20 minutes. (This makes the meat firmer and easier to chop.) Remove from the freezer and cut the bison into 2-inch (5-cm) chunks. In a food processor, combine the bison, mustard, Worcestershire, liquid aminos, lemon juice, olive oil, capers, cornichons, parsley, and salt and pepper to taste and process until the meat is finely chopped and the ingredients are evenly blended. Be careful not to overprocess. (Alternatively, use a sharp chef’s knife to finely chop all the ingredients together.) Transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate until ready to serve.
To make the sauce, preheat an oven to 350°F (180°C).
Cut off the top 1/2 inch (12 mm) of the garlic heads, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Wrap tightly in aluminum foil and roast until the garlic cloves are soft, about 20 minutes. Let cool, then squeeze the garlic out of the skins. In a blender or food processor, combine the garlic pulp, 1 tsp. salt, 1 tsp. white pepper, the mayonnaise and mustard and blend until smooth. Transfer to a small serving bowl, cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
To make the fry bread, pour the water into a small bowl and sprinkle the yeast over the water. Let stand for 5 minutes, then stir to dissolve the yeast. In the bowl of a stand mixer, stir together the flour and salt. Make a well in the center and pour in the yeast mixture. Fit the mixer with the dough hook and beat on medium speed until a smooth, elastic dough forms, about 10 minutes. Transfer the dough to a large oiled bowl, cover with a kitchen towel and let rise until doubled in bulk, about 20 minutes.
In a Dutch oven or large sauté pan over medium-high heat, pour in oil to a depth of about 1 inch (2.5 cm) and heat to 350°F (180°C) on a deep-frying thermometer. Meanwhile, divide the dough into 18 equal pieces. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the dough into rounds about 4 inches (10 cm) in diameter and 1/4 inch (6 mm) thick. Working in batches, place the dough rounds in the hot oil and fry until golden brown and puffed up, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer the fry bread to a paper towel–lined plate.
To serve, on a chilled serving platter, spoon the tartare into a small mound. Using the back of the spoon, make a small indentation in the top, and carefully place the whole egg yolk in the indentation. Serve with the warm fry bread, garlic sauce and pickled okra alongside. Serves 8.
Recipe courtesy of Alexandra Gates, Chef/Owner of Cochineal, Marfa, TX