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Bison was the traditional food of many First Nations of the plains prior to the arrival of European settlers.  Every part of the animal was used and nothing was wasted.  Braising is the best method for cooking shanks, as it is a slow cooking process that helps to break down tough cuts of meat for tenderizing. This recipe combines bison with local Ontario onions for a mouthwatering combination.

Braised Bison and Cooking Onion Stew
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  • 3 bison shanks (3 lb/1.5 kg), each about 1 ½ inches (4 cm) thick
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) ground black pepper, divided
  • 2 tsp (10 mL) kosher salt (or sea salt), divided
  • ¼ cup (60 mL) pure olive oil, divided
  • 2 cups (475 mL) red wine, divided
  • 1 cup (250 mL) large-diced carrot
  • ½ cup (120 mL) large-diced celery
  • 1 cup (250 mL) large-diced cooking onion
  • 1 Tbsp (15 mL) crushed garlic
  • 2 cups (475 mL) Brown Stock or store-bought unsalted beef stock
  • 1 can (14.5 fl oz/430 mL) diced tomatoes with juice
  • ¼ tsp (1 mL) dried basil
  • ¼ tsp (1 mL) dried thyme
  • ¼ tsp (1 mL) dried parsley
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Optional: orange zest, 2 Tbsp (30 mL) chopped green onions


  1. Dry the shanks with paper towel and season them with half the pepper and salt. Tie some butcher twine around each shank to keep the meat from separating from the bone while cooking.
  2. Heat a Dutch oven (or heavy bottomed pan large enough to hold the shanks in a single layer) over very low heat for 10 minutes. Add about a third of the
  3. oil. Brown half the meat on both sides, in one batch. Remove and place in a mixing bowl. Then add another third of the oil to brown the second batch. (This should take about 10 minutes per batch.)
  4. Remove meat from pot and deglaze the pot by pouring in half the red wine, scraping up the brown bits on the bottom and sides of the pot, and swirling the liquid around. Transfer the wine to the mixing bowl and set aside.
  5. Add the remaining oil to the pot and let it heat up. Add the carrots, celery, and onion, stir, and cook for five minutes. Add the garlic and cook for one minute more.
  6. Heat the stock in a microwave or on the stovetop almost to the boiling point. Stir in the tomatoes, herbs, and the remaining salt and pepper and wine. Add the reserved meat and the wine that was used to deglaze the pot and the heated stock. Bring to a boil.
  7. Bake shanks in a single layer in the Dutch oven, covered, for three hours at 375F (190C) or until fork tender. Check that the meat reaches 165F (75C).
  8. Remove twine and bay leaves before serving shanks with pan drippings. Garnish with orange zest and green onions, if using.


Recipe by Chef David Wolfman

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