Alberta Bison on the Silk Road

Alberta Bison on the Silk Road - side view on platter

Bison is one of Alberta’s signature foods. I love it. So, naturally I love to play around with it. There’s archeological evidence bison have been in Alberta for 120,000 years. They crossed over the land bridge from Asia to Alaska about 130,000 years ago and so I got thinking – Asia-Bison-Bison-Asia. I imagined Alberta Bison on the Silk Road and all the spices that would warm a wonderful stew.

This recipe is the result. I hope you enjoy the scents of the spicing that will fill your home and the tastes that will fill your belly. Enjoy it with a great red wine and some polenta or mashed potatoes and a green vegetable or salad. Read on for the recipe.

Alberta Bison on the Silk Road - top down view on platter with wine pairing

Alberta Bison on the Silk Road

Time: 30 minutes prep plus 8 – 10 hours in a slow cooker

Yield: 6 – 8 servings

Equipment: slow cooker or Instant Pot


  • 2-3 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 3½-4 lbs bison round or cross rib roast
  • 1 finely chopped onion
  • 2 finely chopped celery ribs
  • 3 finely chopped carrots
  • 4 cloves finely chopped garlic
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ½ teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 flower Star Anise
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups bold red wine – cabernet, merlot, Malbec, zinfandel
  • 1 (28ounce – 796 mL) can tomatoes
  • 2 teaspoons butter
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 2 cups mushrooms, stemmed
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped parsley

  1. Heat a large frying pan over medium heat (or use the sauté setting on your Instant Pot) and add the olive oil.
  2. Add the bison roast and let it brown until it lifts easily, rotate and continue this way until all sides are brown – for about 10 – 15 minutes.
  3. Transfer the meat to a slow cooker (or if using an Instant Pot, remove it to a platter while you cook your vegetables and create your sauce).
  4. Add the onions, carrots, celery and mushrooms to the frying pan and cook until lightly browned (you may need a bit more olive oil).
  5. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant (about 30 seconds) then add the cinnamon, cloves, allspice, star anise, salt and pepper and stir to distribute evenly.
  6. Pour the red wine into the pan, stirring until all the brown bits on the bottom come loose (this is known as deglazing the pan – it’s how you get ALL the flavour).
  7. Add the tomatoes and bring to a boil then transfer the liquids in the fry pan over the meat in the slow cooker (or add the roast back into the Instant Pot at this time).
  8. Refrigerate overnight at this point or begin cooking on low for about 8 hours.
  9. Taste the sauce before serving and season with salt and pepper once the meat is falls apart easily when tested with a fork.
  10. Transfer to a serving dish and sprinkle with parsley.
  11. Serve with polenta, pasta or mashed potatoes and a green vegetable or salad.
  12. Enjoy with more of that bold red wine.
Alberta Bison on the Silk Road - close up side view on platter

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