If it’s made with lamb, it’s a shepherd’s pie. Made with beef? That’s a cottage pie. If it’s made with bison, what is it? Allow me to introduce you to the Plains Pie!
The vast bison herds of North America once roamed freely across the great plains of the United States and Canada, including my home of southern Alberta, before being hunted to near extinction. They played a significant role in our history and our culture. Even today, not far from Calgary, you will find Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump, a national historic site that contains one of the world’s oldest and largest buffalo jumps, where the native First Nations peoples would hunt this vitally important resource. Through responsible animal husbandry and herd management, the plains bison is officially off the endangered species list. The wood bison still has a little ways to go. In honour of these magestic animals who are now such an important part of my lifestyle, I took the liberty of naming this dish Plains Pie! We’ll see if it catches on…
One of the greatest side benefits I have experienced since going AIP is getting intimately familiar with where my food comes from. I get my bison from Olson’s High Country Bison, a family-run ranch founded in 1992, at the Calgary Farmers’ Market. Olson’s is one of the most well-run, ethical operations I have seen in a long time. Their focus on conservation of both the bison and the environment through traditional practices makes them a huge winner in my books! Their animals run in naturally-formed family herds with minimal human intervention and stress. There is no forced weaning, tagging, castration, dehorning, feedlot environment, and no hormones, antibiotics or vaccinations used on the animals. These animals live a life worthy of their proud heritage.
At the same time, the Olson family is helping to heal the environment in which their animals live. Vital ecosystems across the prairies have been decimated by decades of conventional farming practices. The hope is that the return of the bison and careful management strategies will encourage native prairie to thrive.
Note: Since the writing of this post, Olson’s has disbanded their retail operations. Their focus is now strictly on-the-hoof sales.
I am thrilled to support such a great establishment with my food dollars. Not to mention the many health benefits of bison meat. A serving of grass-fed bison has as much Omega-3 fatty acids as a serving of salmon! Olson’s carries a wide variety of products and cuts, but they can get a little pricey. My standard shopping list at their market stand includes marrow and knuckle bones, liver, and a 60/40 mix of ground bison meat and ground organ meat (it’s a great way to get some extra offal in!). I use this 60/40 mix in my Plains Pie, but regular ground bison would work just as well!
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 2 stalks celery, chopped
- 2 lbs ground bison
- 2 cups mushrooms, sliced
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/2 cup broth
- 2 teaspoons arrowroot starch (tapioca flour would work, too)*
- 4 medium carrots sliced/chopped
- 2 medium-large beets, sliced/chopped
- 4 cups, packed, fresh spinach, coarse chopped
- 1 large head of cauliflower (or 1 1/2 - 2 heads if you like a thicker layer), steamed and pureed
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- pinch of mace
- finely chopped parsley to garinish (optional)
- Melt coconut oil in a frying pan/skillet over medium heat. Sauté garlic, onion, and celery until translucent and fragrant. Add ground bison to the pan and brown. Add mushrooms and salt and cook until mushrooms are done. Add broth and bring to a simmer. Mix arrowroot starch with a little bit of cold water in a cup and mix until smooth. Add to meat and stir to distribute and thicken. Spread meat mixture in the bottom of a 9"x13" oven-safe pan.
- Layer carrots, then beets, then spinach in the pan over the meat.
- Steam cauliflower until soft and drain well. Pureé in food processor with coconut oil, salt, garlic powder, and mace until smooth. Spread over the vegetables in the 9x13 pan to cover and garnish with parsley if desired.
- Bake at 325F for one hour until carrots and beets are tender and the cauliflower begins to brown on top.
* To make this recipe SCD compliant, simply skip the arrowroot/tapioca thickener. You may want to cut back on the amount of broth otherwise you might end up with a bit of liquid in the bottom of your pan.
This recipe was shared on Thank Goodness It’s Monday, Mouthwatering Monday, Fat Tuesday, Tasty Tuesday, Tasty Tuesday, Tasty Tuesdays, Tickle My Tastebuds Tuesday, Phoenix Helix AIP Recipe Roundtable, Gluten Free Wednesdays, The Wednesday Roundup, Full Plate Thursday, Corn Free Everyday, Awesome Life Friday, Gluten Free Friday, Natural Family Friday, Foodie Friday, Foodie Friday DIY, Foodie Friends Friday, Simply Natural Saturdays, Weekend Potluck, Weekend Recipe Link, and Real Food Recipe Roundup!
This recipe was featured on Fat Tuesday – Sunday Snippets!