December 17, 2015

Mark McEwan’s Five-Spice Bison Tenderloin With Spiced Apples

Recipe: Mark McEwan

Bison is a lean meat, and so, just as with beef, its tenderloin must be cooked rare or it will be tender no more. If using beef tenderloin, cook medium rare. When cooked properly, the meat will be succulent, its flavor beautifully complemented by the definitive Chinese spice mix known as five-spice. We echo some of the five-spice notes in the spicing for the accompanying braised apple, the most reliable of fruity counterpoints for game meats.

Pair this recipe with Mark McEwan’s Roasted Carrots.


  • 1 whole bison tenderloin, about 2lb (1kg) or 2lb of beef tenderloin, trimmed and tied
  • 3 tbsp (45 mL) olive oil
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) five-spice powder 
  • Salt


  • 2 tsp (10 mL) olive oil
  • 2 braising apples (preferably Fuji), peeled and cut into ¼-in (5mm) dice
  • 1 star anise
  • 3 whole cloves
  • ½ stick cinnamon
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 tbsp (30 mL) brown sugar
  • ¼ (50 mL) Riesling


Yield: Serves 6

  1. Preheat oven to 250°F (120°C).
  2. Let bison rest at room temperature for 30 minutes, then pat dry with paper towels. Rub lightly with 2 tsp (10 mL) of the olive oil, sprinkle on all sides with five-spice powder, and season generously with salt. Heat a large, thick-bottomed non-stick skillet on medium-high. Heat the remaining oil, and then sear the bison on all sides until nicely browned – 7 to 8 minutes.
  3. Transfer the bison to a rack in a shallow roasting dish and roast about 50 minutes, until a meat thermometer reads 115°F (46°C). Turn off oven and return the bison to the oven to rest for 10 to 15 minutes with the door ajar. The internal temperature should reach 125°F (50°C). Transfer bison to a carving board, tent with foil, and let rest another 10 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, heat the small saucepan on medium-high and add oil, apple, star anise, cloves, cinnamon, and a pinch of salt. Stir frequently to avoid excessive browning. As soon as the apples begin to take on color, add the sugar and half the Riesling. Reduce to a thick syrup and repeat. Remove from the heat.
  5. Carve the bison. Place a mound of pre-prepared mashed potato on each plate. Add two slices of bison, then roasted carrots. Top the bison with a generous spoonful of spiced apple and serve.

Tip: Serve with Stoneleigh Pinot Noir


Nikki Leigh McKean