Bison and Boar Pizza

I like to think that today’s consumer has become slightly more food savvy over the last 10 years and instead of just grabbing something off the shelf at the grocery store we are now paying closer attention to what goes into our bodies. By looking for healthy alternatives, meat such as Bison and Wild Boar are now making a comeback. Bison was available long before domestic beef made their way to North America and IS the original red meat. It has a very low fat content and is high in Omega 6 and due to it’s high protein content does not shrink during the cooking process.
Wild Boar is also a wonderful alternative to pork with it’s lean, close-grained meat that offers a sweet, nutty, pleasantly distinctive flavor. Wild Boar like Bison is very high in protein. It is leaner and a deeper red color than its cousin pork and both Wild Boar and Bison qualify as 100% natural.

Plains Indians of North America used just about every part of the bison for food, clothing, or weapons. Their lives revolved around the availability of this majestic creature. By the 1890s this all changed as the bison were being eliminated by European settlers whom considered them to exist in limitless supply. For the non-native buffalo hunters they were the equivalent of a gold mine on four legs and hunted from trains and horseback for their tongues, hides, bones and little else. The tongue was, and still is considered a delicacy. Hides were prepared and shipped to the east and Europe for processing into leather. The carcasses were, for the most part, left to rot. Hunters would eventually return to gather the bones which were then shipped via rail to eastern destinations for processing into industrial carbon and fertilizer. By the 1890s with numbers nearing extinction, the bison ‘gold rush’ was over.

Wild Boar were introduced into North America with European settlers during the 1500s.  Originally it was the domesticated pig, which was a food source.  Most of the wild populations in the United States are animals that escaped enclosures and are now hundreds of years feral. During the 1900s, populations of wild boar from Eurasia were also introduced as a game source for hunters. These animals have bred with the feral pigs to create a cross-breed of Wild Boar that is larger in size then the original European ones introduced over 100 years ago.

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes

Ingredients

½ pound ground bison
1 small onion, chopped
1  12″ pizza crust (homemade or store bought)
1 can (8 ounces) pizza sauce
6 boar bacon strips, cooked and crumbled (regular bacon may be substituted)
20 hot banana pepper slices (drained
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp fresh chopped garlic
1 tsp basil

Homemade Pizza Dough:
4 1/2 cups unbleached high-gluten, bread, or all-purpose flour, chilled
1 3/4 tsp salt
1 tsp instant yeast
1/4 cup olive oil (optional)
1 3/4 cups water, ice cold (40°F)
Semolina flour OR cornmeal for dusting

This will make enough dough for 6 small pizzas or 3 large.

Directions

Dough:
Stir together the flour, salt, and instant yeast in a 4-quart bowl of an electric mixer.  Add the oil and the cold water until the flour is all absorbed (on low speed with the paddle attachment) for 5 to 7 minutes, or until the dough is smooth and the ingredients are evenly distributed. Dough should clear the sides of the bowl but stick to the bottom of the bowl. If the dough is too wet and doesn’t come off the sides of the bowl, sprinkle in some more flour just until it clears the sides. If it clears the bottom of the bowl, dribble in a teaspoon or two of cold water. The finished dough will be springy, elastic, and sticky. Sprinkle flour on the counter and transfer the dough to the counter. Cut the dough into 6 equal pieces (or 3 pieces for larger). Sprinkle flour over the dough. Make sure your hands are dry and then flour them. Lift each piece and gently round it into a ball. If the dough sticks to your hands, dip your hands into the flour again. Transfer the dough balls to a sheet pan, then mist dough generously with spray oil and slip the pan into a food-grade plastic bag. Put dough into the refrigerator overnight to rest or keep for up to 3 days. (Note: If you want to save some of the dough for future baking, you can store the dough balls in a zippered freezer bag. Dip each dough ball into a bowl that has a few tablespoons of oil in it, rolling the dough in the oil, and then put each ball into a separate bag. You can place the bags into the freezer for up to 3 months. Transfer them to the refrigerator the day before you plan to make pizza.)

Pizza Construction:
Prepare crust if necessary and set aside. In a skillet, add 1 teaspoon of oil and cook bison and onion until meat is no longer pink. Once cooked remove from heat, place into a dish and set aside.  Clean skillet and fry boar bacon until 2/3 done. Drain on paper towel and break into 1 inch pieces.  Mix chopped garlic with pizza sauce sprinkling it liberally around pizza. Add bacon pieces, banana peppers and spices. Top with another sprinkled layer of mixed cheese and bake at 400 F for 8 – 10 minutes or until cheese is melted and crust is golden brown. For crisper crust turn heat up to 425 F for last 5 minute of cooking time. Make sure to watch closely so crust does not burn. Remove from oven, let stand for a few minutes and cut into slices to serve.

Yield 6 to 8 servings

FOOTNOTE: Don’t let Bison or Wild Boar intimidate you when it comes to cooking. Both are easy to prepare and have wonderful flavour. There are many recipes available for preparing these meats and the only real difference is cooking time.  Both Bison and Boar require less cooking time then domestic pork or beef to retain their texture and flavour.