These bison sausage rolls are definitely on our menu for afternoon snacks with the cottage crowd over the upcoming May long weekend.
Bison is a delicious and lean red meat that pairs well with a variety of wines, including Cabernet Franc and Pinot Noir, or even local hybrids such as Foch and Baco Noir. The addition of the bright orange and fennel flavours in this recipe would also make it an excellent partner to full-bodied rosés (think Cabernet or Tempranillo-based pinks).
We'd like to thank Lindsay Anderson and Dana VanVeller for this recipe, which is from their newly-released cookbook Feast: Recipes and Stories from a Canadian Roadtrip.
“You two are insane.”
This is what an Ontario cattle rancher told us after hearing about our visit to a bison ranch in Alberta. We prefer the term “adventurously ignorant.” When we visited Gus Janke’s Maple Hills Bison Farm, just south of Edmonton, he drove us right into the middle of his herd, which he raises for meat and sells to families in the area. While we were somewhat terrified, we were right to trust Gus; he sent us back on the road with limbs intact and some bison pepperoni to snack on—a good reminder that in addition to being enormous, bison are extraordinarily tasty. Many grocery stores now carry bison meat, but if you can’t get your hands on any, you can use lean ground beef as a substitute. We’ve adapted this recipe from one made up by Lindsay’s friends Suzie and Reena. It combines puff pastry with the brightness of orange zest and fresh fennel and has an easy-to-make tomato sauce for dipping.
1 Tbsp (15 mL) extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup (80 mL) white onion, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup (125 mL) fresh fennel, finely diced
2 tsp (10 mL) orange zest
14 ounces (400 g) ground bison or lean ground beef
3 ounces (85 g) ground pork
1/4 cup (60 mL) dried bread crumbs
1 tsp (5 mL) dried chili flakes
1 Tbsp (15 mL) finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 tsp (5 mL) salt
1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup (60 mL) milk
2 sheets pre-made puff pastry, thawed (but kept cold in the refrigerator until needed)
2 Tbsp (30 mL) nigella seeds and/or sesame seeds
1 Tbsp (15 mL) extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup (80 mL) finely chopped white onion
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
One 28-ounce (796 mL) can whole or diced toma- toes, with juice
1 tsp (5 mL) honey
1/2 tsp (2 mL) salt
1 tsp (5 mL) orange zest
To make the sausage mixture, add the olive oil to a large pan and set over low heat. Sauté the onion and garlic until the onions have turned translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the chopped fennel and cook another 5 minutes. Lower the heat and add the zest. Cook a few more minutes, then remove from the heat and let cool.
In a large bowl, combine the bison, pork, bread crumbs, chili flakes, parsley, salt, and pepper. Add the cooled fennel mixture and gently combine with your hands. At this point, you may want to fry up a small patty of the meat mixture and taste it so you can be sure it’s seasoned as you like. Divide the mixture into four equal parts.
In a small bowl, use a whisk or fork to beat the egg and milk together, then set aside. This egg wash will be used to seal and cover the sausage rolls.
Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Cover a baking sheet in parchment paper.
Unfurl the puff pastry on a clean board or countertop. If you have two square-shaped sheets of pastry, cut each piece in half to create four long rectangular pieces. If you have two round sheets, cut each in half and reshape the ends to create rectangles.
With the first quarter of the bison mixture, use your hands to make a sausage-like shape the same length as the longest side of your pastry rectangle. Lay it along one long side of the pastry, about 1 inch (2.5 cm) from one edge. Using your fingers or a brush, apply the egg wash along the opposite edge of the pastry— this will work to seal the roll together. Starting with the side closest to the sausage mixture, gently roll the pastry over the meat and keep rolling until it meets the egg-washed edge. Adjust the roll so the seam is at the bottom. Repeat with the remaining three sheets of pastry.
Transfer the rolls to the prepared baking sheet. Brush the top of each roll with the egg wash, then score the tops with a sharp knife, making shallow cuts about 2 inches (5 cm) apart. Sprinkle the tops with nigella and/ or sesame seeds.
Bake in the preheated oven for 30 to 40 minutes, or until the pastry is golden brown and the meat is cooked through (the internal temperature should be 160°F/71°C).
While the rolls are baking, make the sauce. In a medium pot, heat the olive oil over low to medium heat and sauté the onion and garlic until the onions become translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the toma- toes and bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for about 20 to 30 minutes. Stir the sauce occasionally, breaking up the tomatoes with a wooden spoon or a fork. Once it has reduced to a nice thick sauce, add the honey, salt, and orange zest, then simmer a few more minutes. Taste the sauce to make sure the balance of salty and sweet is to your liking. This can be put in the blender if you prefer it smooth, but we love the chunky, more rustic version. Slice the sausage rolls into 2-inch (5 cm) pieces and serve warm with the dipping sauce.
Recipe and image excerpt are copyright © 2017 Lindsay Anderson and Dana VanVeller. Published by Appetite by Random House®, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.