In this Native American-inspired dish, earthy ground bison from Oklahoma is seasoned with sage and stuffed inside a homemade ravioli flavored with a rough chop of mint from the garden. The ravioli is tossed in vigorously simmering water for a minute or two before being lightly toasted in a pan and served smothered in a decadent blackberry sauce.
The star of this dish is lightly sage-seasoned raw bison; meat surprisingly difficult to find in the heart of the Great Plains, where herds once roamed in vast numbers.
Jessie Deardorf, Kyle Reynolds, and Austin Puckett are the owners of this local bison ranch located off of historic Route 66 in Sayre, Oklahoma. Their current herd of 900 heritage bison is free-roaming, hormone-free, humanely raised, and their meat is processed at the Quapaw Tribe’s processing plant in Miami, Oklahoma. As ranch owners, they are transparent about their dedication to healthy, sustainable practices and the ethical treatment of their herd. A visit to their Instagram page shows wooly bison roaming as openly as their ancestors – once numbered in the millions – did before European colonization and decimation.
With over 2,000 acres of pasture, Benjamin Lee Bison is one of the largest bison ranches in Oklahoma. They sell steaks and roasts in addition to the ground bison they sent me to sample. You can learn more about those packages of bison by viewing the Benjamin Lee Bison highlight on my Instagram page.
Bison are majestic, wild, iconic, instinctual animals that miraculously survived intended extermination. They are fighters and survivors and are a symbol of the resilience, strength and determination that defines the best of America’s history and we are proud and honored to raise them.Jessie Deardorf, owner at Benjamin Lee Bison
It’s a happy sight, these once nearly extinct herds, returning to the Oklahoma prairie and grasslands. Historically, the bison were more than a meat source or a resource for Native tribes, these creatures held significance in rituals, dance, and spirituality. Their importance and the impact of their loss can’t be overstated enough. Today, tribes like the Cheyenne and Arapaho and the Modoc Nation in Oklahoma are entering the bison market with their own herds – a trend I hope continues among tribes, including my own tribe, the Kiowas.
If you’re local to Oklahoma City, you can find Benjamin Lee Bison at the Urban Agrarian, Wheeler’s Meat Market, and the Scissortail Farmers’ Market on Saturdays. I can assure you that the quality of the ground bison from Benjamin Lee Bison is exceptional, which I’m sure is a direct result of their free-range herd. Someday, I hope to try their other cuts like the roast or steak.
If you’ve never tried bison, and especially if you have, I hope you make this Indigenous-inspired ravioli dish. Sage, mint, bison, blackberries, and sumac complement one another in each satisfying bite. Quality ingredients, with a little effort and love, yield a wonderfully special meal. It’s time spent in the kitchen that you won’t regret.
You can make the pasta dough as early as one to two days ahead of time along with the blackberry sauce. Prepared ravioli should be tossed into a pot of water at a rapid simmer but not a full boil. Remove ravioli with a slotted spoon within a minute or two as they float to the top.
Avoid overcooking the bison, as it will congeal and harden. The center of your bison should still retain a visible pink coloring. Test cooking time with a single ravioli before adding in batches to the water.
Cooked ravioli may also be lightly toasted in a hot pan before serving (optional). Keep in mind this will continue to cook the bison, so remove it from the water earlier.
- 1 ½ cup 00 flour
- 2 eggs
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 tsp. fine sea salt
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- 2 Tbsp. or ⅛ of cup fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
- 1 cup fresh or frozen blackberries
- 3 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
- 1 Tbsp. brown sugar
- 1 tsp. tomato paste
- 1 tsp. sumac powder
- 1 large pinch of Kosher salt
- 1 pat of unsalted butter
- 1 lb. ground bison
- 1 Tbsp. dried sage leaves
- ½ tsp. fine sea salt
- ½ tsp. chipotle powder
- ¼ tsp. freshly cracked pepper
Makes roughly 30 half-moon ravioli.
Use a large bowl. Add flour. Make a well in the center and add eggs, salt, oil, and mint. Use a fork to whisk eggs and gently combine with flour until a dough forms. Knead into a smooth ball of dough. Allow to rest at room temperature at least 30 minutes before rolling into sheets or rest the dough in the refrigerator until you are ready to roll out the dough. Leave time to bring the dough back to room temp so it will be pliable when you roll it.
Divide your dough ball into 4 portions. Add to a floured surface and hand pat each into a semi-rectangular shape. Use a rolling pin or pasta maker to create 4 thin sheets approximately 22” long. You should be able to see your hand beneath each pasta sheet.
Use a round biscuit cutter to create ravioli. Fill the center with bison. Fold over, gently patting out air, and pinch the center dough sides together. Crimp to seal the half-moon shapes with your fingers or a fork. Use a small dab of water around the interior edges if needed to help seal.
Heat ingredients in a small heavy-bottomed pot on medium-high until berries break apart and ingredients reduce until a syrupy sauce forms. Mash berries, leaving some larger bits while you stir. Remove from heat and add a pat of butter for a glossy finish.
Serve your freshly cooked and toasted ravioli with sauce and an additional sprinkle of fresh mint.
Add raw bison and spices to a small glass bowl. Use a fork to incorporate the seasoning but do not overwork the bison. Use a small spoon to add the raw filling to each ravioli.
Depending on how many ravioli you make, you may only need ½ a lb. of bison. If using a full 1 lb. of ground bison, you may save leftover filling in the freezer or prepare more pasta dough.
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