Bison Butchering…Yes, I do live in the Wild West!

A word of warning for those of you who don’t eat meat…or don’t want to see where your meat comes from….this post is may be a little too much for you. It’s okay, I understand.

Art Meets Beast

The “Beast Meets Art” events this week at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Denver were very interesting and challenged my thinking about what is considered art.  Is an animal a form of art? What about an animal running on the western plains?  How about the food that is made from the animal?

The bison that was butchered came from a bison ranch in Nebraska. While the whole animal was delivered, the seminar only used a hind quarter…which is pretty darn big. The remainder of the animal was butchered earlier in the day. The animal was 2 years old which is the best age to produce tender meat.

Hind Quarter of 2 Year Old Bison

Butchering is coming back into favor as a craft and Jimmy Cross from Marzczyk Fine Foods is well known for his butchering abilities.

Jimmy, the butcher, concentrating

Jimmy started with the hanging carcass, explaining and cutting into the architecture of the finished animal and breaking it down to usable pieces. Using his knives he quickly made the cuts and lined up the meat on a table.  When the knives weren’t big enough or strong enough he switched to hand saws, explaining that normally he uses a band saw in his shop.

It took 2 people to saw the carcass.

Moving to the table where the largest pieces were displayed, Jimmy sawed through the ribs with some help. The ribs were massive…a big barbecue grill would be in order if you were going to make barbecued ribs!

The ribs were massive and difficult to cut through

While a bison and beef are very similar in anatomy,  the hump, on the back just behind the head, is unique.  The large muscle allows the bison to hold up its very large head while charging across the plains.  The hump is a specialty at some of the local game restaurants where it is roasted and then the meat is separated from the bone.  The hump feeds about about 1/2 dozen people.

The hump is on the upper left side, the muscle is used to hold up the large head when running

Finally, Jimmy took the better known roasts and tied them so they would look just like they do in the meat case.  The chefs who were making the dinner the next night were in attendance and as Jimmy cut the meat they would wiggle their way to the table and pick up the pieces they wanted to cook for the Bison Roast dinner. They were standing behind me and the conversations about how they were going to cook the m eat was very interesting…and amusing.

A quick flick of the wrist and fingers and the roasts were tied.

The chefs worked late into the night preparing for the big Bison Roast dinner that was held the next evening.  Of course I’ll be posting the pictures and stories about the dinner.

Click here for more pictures from, the free city weekly in Denver.

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2 Responses to Bison Butchering…Yes, I do live in the Wild West!

  1. Cool! I’ve always wanted to try the buffalo hump at The Fort but you need to find the right group for that.

    • Jane says:

      It would be a fun field trip to go to The Fort and have buffalo hump. Needs to be ordered in advance…not a popular dish. You are right…needs to be the right group of people.

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