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Buffalo

Also indexed as: Beefalo, Bison

Illustration

Preparation, uses, and tips

Buffalo does not contain internal streaks of fat and thus cooks about one-third faster than beef. If overcooked, it dries out quickly. The secret to successful buffalo cookery is do not overcook. When adapting beef recipes, cook buffalo at a lower temperature, to medium or medium rare internal temperatures.

For best results, use a meat thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the buffalo meat, making sure the thermometer is not touching a bone. Internal temperatures should be as follows when the buffalo is done:

  • Ground buffalo: 160°F (71°C)
  • Roasts, steaks: Medium rare 145°F (62.8° C); Medium 160°F (71°C); Well done 170°F (77°C)

Roasting

This dry-heat method works well on tender cuts, such as tenderloin, loin, and sirloin roasts. Wipe roast with a clean, damp kitchen towel and place on a rack above a shallow roasting pan with fat side up. Insert meat thermometer deep into the meat. Roast at 275°F (140°C) until desired internal temperature is reached.

Pan-broiling

Heat a heavy skillet over medium heat until hot. Place steak or burgers in the skillet. Sear until brown on each side. Turn the meat frequently until the center has just lost its pink color.

Stir-frying

Wash buffalo, cut into thin strips and pat dry. Use tender cuts or tough cuts sliced across the grain. Heat a wok or heavy skillet until hot. Add oil, then the slices of buffalo in small batches. Stir until done, about two to four minutes depending on quantity.

Braising

Wet-heat cooking works well for tougher cuts of meat, such as pot roast or brisket. Wipe roast with a clean, damp kitchen towel and heat a heavy skillet or Dutch oven over medium heat until very hot. Add oil or butter, add the roast, and brown it on all sides. When meat is all browned, add cooking liquid and cover tightly with a lid. Cook in the oven at 275°F (140°C), or on the stovetop over low heat until buffalo is tender.

Stewing

Wash, pat dry, and cut tougher cuts such as chuck, shank, plate, and heel of round into cubes. Brown in oil if desired. Then put in a Dutch oven and cover with liquid and herbs, spices, and vegetables. Cook in the oven at 275°F (140°C), or on the stovetop over low heat until buffalo is tender.

Microwaving

For roast, place meat on roasting rack over dish, fat side down. Cook on high for four to five minutes then on medium for four to ten minutes per pound (450g). Rotate dish halfway through cooking period. Let stand 15 minutes. For burgers, arrange on a greased baking dish, and cook on high for seven minutes per pound (450g). Turn burgers over halfway through.

Grilling

Rub bison steaks with salt, pepper, garlic, and oil. Place steaks or burgers on prepared grill with rack 4 to 5 inches (10 to 12.5cm) from heat source. Grill, turning over once; use tongs or a spatula, not a fork (which may pierce meat and cause juices to run out). Cook steaks 8 to 18 minutes, depending on size of steak and degree of doneness desired. Cook burgers just until pink color in the center has disappeared.

To test the temperature, place your palms above the coals or heat source, at cooking level. If you have to remove your hands after two seconds, the temperature is hot; after three seconds, medium hot; and after four seconds, medium. More than four seconds indicates the grill has not reached cooking temperature.

Buying and storing tips

Fresh, quality buffalo is deep red in color, with no marbling of fat.

Check the “Sell By” date on the package. This date indicates the last date the buffalo should be offered for sale. Meat and poultry should be prepared as soon as possible after the date of purchase, and used beyond the Sell By date only occasionally, if at all.

Leave buffalo in its original wrapping, over-wrap with foil to keep meat juices from contaminating other food, and store in the coldest part of the refrigerator. Refrigerate no more than two days for small cuts, three to four days for large cuts. To keep buffalo longer than that, wrap it carefully in freezer paper, over-wrap with plastic, and store in the freezer. Frozen ground buffalo keeps for two to three months; stew meat for three to four months; roasts and steaks for six months to one year.

Defrost frozen buffalo in the refrigerator. Steaks and chops take about 24 hours; allow one to two days for roasts, depending on the size.

To quick-thaw, separate steaks and chops, place them on a microwavable platter in the microwave oven, and defrost for four to eight minutes, depending on size and number, turning the dish halfway through. Place large roasts in a baking dish and defrost for 9 to 24 minutes, depending on size; turn the dish halfway though. Place ground meat in a shallow ceramic or glass baking dish, cover, and defrost three to four minutes, breaking up and turning the meat several times. When defrosting in the microwave, take care not to allow meat to begin cooking.

Varieties

Like beef, buffalo is cut into steaks, roasts, brisket, stew meat, and ground buffalo; it’s also made into hot dogs, jerky, and salami. Beefalo, animals produced by breeding buffalo and cattle, produce meat that tastes and cooks much like beef.

Nutrition Highlights

Buffalo game meat, 3 oz. (85g) (cooked, roasted)
Calories: 111
Protein: 22.8g
Carbohydrate: 0.0g
Total Fat: 1.5g
Fiber: 0.0g
*Excellent source of: Niacin (5.3mg); Vitamin B12 (1.5mcg)
*Good source of: Iron (1.8mg), and Selenium (10.2 mcg)

*Foods that are an “excellent source” of a particular nutrient provide 20% or more of the Recommended Daily Value. Foods that are a “good source” of a particular nutrient provide between 10 and 20% of the Recommended Daily Value.

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