The Perfect Montana Meal

By JUSTIN FRANZ for the Flathead Beacon

Flathead Valley Community College’s Chef Howard Karp knows his way around a kitchen and in the past he has graciously shared some of his secrets with the Beacon. This time around, Karp has prepared what we’re calling the “perfect Montana meal,” anchored by bison rib eye steaks, grilled in coffee beans with a Flathead cherry velvet chili sauce.

Karp said the rib eye, also known as a “cowboy steak,” has an earthy flavor that is complemented by the coffee beans.

To serve alongside the meat, Karp said you could never go wrong with mashed potatoes or root vegetables.

The meal can serve up to eight people.


A bison rib eye grilled in coffee beans with Flathead cherry velvet chili sauce. – Greg Lindstrom | Flathead Beacon


  • 28 oz. tin of Flathead cherries, pitted
  • 3 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 tbsp. roasted garlic
  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 4 oz. ancho chilies, chopped
  • 3 oz. tomato paste
  • 1 cup of brewed espresso coffee for the sauce
  • 3/4 cup roasted peppers
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 2 tbsp. chili powder
  • 4 tbsp. high-quality cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 cups of veal demi-glace
  • 4 tbsp. unsalted butter, cold and diced
  • Salt and pepper, for taste
  • 6 tbsp. grape seed oil
  • 3 tbsp. butter
  • 4 18-oz. bison rib eye steaks
  • 2 cups finely ground dark coffee beans


Step 1.
 Heat olive oil in a heavy-bottom sauté pan to prevent the meat from burning. Sauté garlic, onions and chiles, and sweat for 3 minutes.


Flathead Valley Community College Chef Howard Karp prepares the dish. – Greg Lindstrom | Flathead Beacon

Add tomato paste to the vegetables and cook an additional 3 minutes. Add the brewed coffee and deglaze the pan. Simmer for 4 minutes.

Step 2. Add half of the tin of cherries (approximately 30), red peppers, broth, chili powder, and cocoa powder. Simmer for 30 minutes.

Step 3. Place the sauce mixture in a blender and blend until smooth (3 to 4 minutes).

Step 4. During the last minute of blending, add the demi-glace and butter cubes one at a time to finish the velvet textured sauce.
Step 5. It’s time to grill! Off-set your grill heat – to prevent over-browning and making the coffee bitter, the bison rib eyes should not be cooked directly over the fire. Coat the rib eyes with oil and dredge them in the coffee grounds. Place on the grill and cook for 4 minutes on each side for medium rare, (internal temperature should be around 132 degrees).

Step 6. When you have reached the desired internal temperature, place on a wired rack and let the filet rest for 3-4 minutes. Plating is easy – slice the rib eye steaks on the plate, and pour sauce around the meat. Add the remainder of the heated cherries on top of the cut bison slices.