The ground rumbles as the herd of majestic bison move through the spring pastures behind us, their magnificent silhouettes breathtaking against the morning sun.
I’m on the Tatanka Bison Ranch with Fred Ilse, who just happens to be a fellow South African expat! Established in 2015, Fred found an abandoned, overgrown yet majestic 225-acre property in York County, SC and began the labor of love to turn the land into what is today an established eco-tourism ranch.
Having purchased the land, Fred happened upon a herd of bison in North Carolina. On further research he realized that bison where native to South Carolina, and the very area of his land over 200 years ago!
Growing up in South Africa, Fred had a long-standing appreciation for the African elephant, much like bison, they are very spiritual animals, matriarchal in society and extremely protective of each other. He fondly calls his herd his ‘African Elephant’ and has realized his dream to combine his love of farming with ecotourism.
As a species, Bison have existed for centuries, however where almost extinct in the mid 1880’s due to aggressive culling. The motto at Tatanka Bison Ranch is ‘Preservation, Education, and Agritourism’, and as a member of the National Bison Association, Fred is committed to nurturing the herd and farming with holistic, ethical and sustainable practices.
Beginning with soil management, the pastures at the ranch have an established soil rejuvenation program without harmful pesticides. The bison get to feast on a veritable ‘salad bar’ of a pasture with a blend of grasses, rye and wild radish, along with plenty of fresh air, sunshine and free grazing results in a healthy animal.
Bison is the ultimate ‘Better for You’ lean red meat, with only 2.42 grams of fat per 100g serving as compared to 18.54 grams for beef; and loaded with B vitamins, zinc and selenium.
What fun I had cooking at the ranch, whipping up recipes on location with Root Sky Productions right in the pasture alongside Fred! The ground bison worked wonderfully in this dish with a Middle Eastern spin, Bison Kofta with Roast Garlic Labneh and Chopped Summer Salad.
If you’re not familiar with Bison, I encourage you to try this healthy protein, good for you and the environment. You can read here how consuming bison is key to preservation.
Tatanka Bison Ranch products are available on Saturday’s at the producer only Uptown Farmers Market in Charlotte, NC or ordered from the ranch.
I do hope you enjoy this wonderful recipe, happy summer!Print
Bison Kofta with Roast Garlic Labneh & Chopped Summer Salad
Delicious healthy lean meat, the bison kofta are wonderful served with garlic labneh and a chopped summer salad.
2 Lb Ground Bison
1/4 cup chopped Spring Onion
1 Tablespoon Sambal Oelek
1 Tablespoon Savory Spice Store Oregan Trail Juniper Berry Spice Blend
1 teaspoon Balsamic Vinegar
1 teaspoon Salt
Olive Oil, for cooking
- Place all ingredients in a bowl and mix well.
- Divide into 6 portions, form each portion into an oval shape pressed around a flat skewer (see video)
- Preheat an outdoor grill or grill pan, brush the kofta lightly with oil, and grill approximately 10 minutes total, turning a few times.
- Place a generous dollop ‘smear’ of labneh on each plate and drizzle a little olive oil over.
- Place a little mixed salad alongside
- Top with one or two bison kofta
- Garnish with extra herbs.
Special equipment needed: Flat kofta skewers
Roast Garlic Labneh
Labneh is yogurt which has been strained to thicken, and a wonderful base for sauces.
4 cups plain full fat Greek Yogurt
1 whole head Garlic
1/2 cup chopped Herbs; Basil, Dill & Parsley
1 teaspoon Za’atar seasoning
1 teaspoon salt
- Strain the labneh; place in a sieve lined with cheesecloth or a coffee filter overnight and place in the refrigerator, discard the liquid.
- Roast the garlic; wrap the whole head of garlic loosely in foil and bake at 350F for 30 minutes. Allow to cool, break apart and squeeze out the garlic.
- Mix together the labneh, garlic, herbs and seasoning.
Chopped Summer Salad
A simple chopped summer salad accompaniment.
1 English Cucumber, small dice
1 pint Cherry Tomatoes, halved
2 cups Salad Peppers, fine dice
2 Spring Onions, chopped
1/4 cup mixed Herbes, Basil, Dill, Parsley
2 Tablespoons Apple Cider Vinegar
1/4 cup Olive Oil
1 teaspoon Savory Spice Store Hidden Cove Lemon Dressing
- Toss together all salad ingredients