Buffalo Soulja


As you all know, I’ve been having some beef problems lately. Shopping at the food co-op sometimes does this weird ethical conscious/healthy eater thing to me and has turned me off of big-farm, corn-fed beef, but I just can’t learn to like the grassy stuff.

Oh, and don’t worry, I’m still planning to shell out for that $30 grass-fed filet mignon, as you all ordered. Just waiting for the right occasion.

In the meantime, I decided to branch out and try the whole buffalo craze that everyone is talking about. Before we begin, a few facts about buffalo that I gathered in my research.

1- Bison/Buffalo: Same thing – well, for our purposes anyway. Bison is the correct name, and they’re not the same thing that makes buffalo milk mozzarella. But any meat you see in stores here – usually called buffalo, but sometimes bison – is just plain old North American buffalo, like from the movies.

2- On the Grass: There are no bison mega-factory-farms, so all these guys are raised on pastures, eating the green stuff (although many are “finished” on corn at feedlots, shortly before they make it to your plate).

3- This tip is from me: It’s good but it’s not cow. So don’t expect it to be. Think of it more as trying a totally new type of meat, not as a replacement for steak, because that’s just not going to work.

Full details of my dancing with the buffaloes after the jump.

So sometimes when I read mags like Gourmet they totally trick me into thinking anything upscale can sound tasty. Case-in-point: this coffee-marinated bison short ribs recipe. Yum, I figured. I love coffee, and it apparently goes well with buffalo, so why not try a spin on this rib marinade for my buffalo steak.

So I mixed together the marinade ingredients: water, coffee, salt, brown sugar, maple syrup, rosemary and Worcestershire sauce. I know, what was I thinking? It was disgusting. Just tasting it made me gag. I threw it immediately down the drain.

So at this point, I decided I really wanted to know what bison tastes like, so I wasn’t gonna invent some fancy sauce to hide the flavor. So I just salt and peppered the steak, put a hunk of butter in the pan (gotta get the fat back in that animal, somehow), and cooked it as directed, on medium-low, for about seven minutes each side. In general, everyone says to cook bison for less time than you would a cow steak.

I actually really liked it. Again, not steak-steak, but for something different, it’s got a cool texture, although not a whole lot of taste – but most importantly, none of that gamey, chewy thing going on with the grass-fed beef.

For my veggie topping, I invented up a crazy hash thing – sauteed up a russet potato, zucchini and yellow pepper, then added a few tablespoons of kimchi in there. The whole thing was fun, but I thought the buffalo needed just a little more taste, so I drizzled some balsamic on top, which actually went really well, lending just the right amount of flavor.

I’ll definitely try buffalo again – recipes, anyone?

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  • MissGinsu May 2, 2008  

    Bison is hot now? Crazy. I grew up on the stuff, but we mostly had it ground (as in frybread tacos, chili, etc.) or in jerky form. It’s just fine as a steak. My man’s mad for it. Sometimes we make a nice sauce for it, but that’s about it. I really don’t care for the corn-finished steaks. You can tell. They’re fatty and don’t taste as bison-y.

  • JoeHoya May 2, 2008  

    Granville Moore’s in DC, though best known for their mussels, is doing great things with bison. They get theirs from New Horizons Farm in Madison, VA, and they use it in everything from hanger steaks to brisket sandwiches (great with melted cheddar and carmelized onions). But they really shine with their bison tartar recipe. No egg, just capers, olive oil, truffle shavings and good old raw bison (give or take one or two ingredients).

    Don’t believe me? Just ask Gansie. She’s tried it, too.

  • Maidelitala May 2, 2008  

    “I love this land and the buffalo and will not part with it. I want you to understand well what I say. Write it on paper… I want the children raised as I was.

  • Sara May 2, 2008  

    Cibola Farms is at a bunch of local farmer’s markets, and they always have tasty recipes printed up on fliers. Unfortunately, none are on their website.

  • Sheila May 3, 2008  

    I had great expectations of bison burgers before trying one at Ted’s (as in Turner) at his Rock Center place. The one I had was dry, tasteless – even worse than my one try at a turkey burger. If I’m going to eat just one or two burgers a year, I’ll stick with the old fashioned kind.

  • gansie May 3, 2008  

    joehoya is right. the bison tartar at granville moore’s is effing incredible. its like butter. literally.

    i had buffalo burger at the american indian museum cafeteria. tom sietsema raved about the food there, but i’m with sheila. i thought it was terribly dry and tasteless.

  • Terry May 3, 2008  

    Please spare me; most of your food photos are beautiful. It is a great reminder of how much I dislike it.
    We were invited to a work associate for steaks. I at least did some good pretending. My husband and his boss were not very delightful guests.
    Gimme a good black angus steak.And don’t serve it to Texans unless you are sure they just had open heart surgery.

  • JoeHoya May 5, 2008  

    The biggest problem with bison burgers is fat content. It’s like trying to make a burger with ultra-lean ground beef – without the fat to keep the patty moist and basically cook it from the inside while the flames hit the outside, the whole thing dries out.

    It takes too much work to doctor ground bison to get it to the point where it makes good burgers. Stick with steaks and brisket, but cook them no more than medium rare or they dry out.

  • Leah May 5, 2008  

    I love Bison. Have made bison fajitas and bison kebabs in the past. Ted Turner (I know I know)..has a chain restaurant that serves bison burgers pretty much anyway you would like them (i.e. Philly Bison Burger, Mexican Bison Burger, Traditional )–around 15 varieties.

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