Buffalo was once the chief source of meat for many Native Americans before the animal nearly became instinct over two centuries ago. However, because of its many health benefits and other factors, buffalo meat is rapidly making a comeback to plates and palates today.
Private ranches are now raising buffalos in a bid to fill the growing demand for buffalo meat but the supply remains miniscule compared to the supply of beef, making it presently relatively expensive. Despite the costs however, buffalo meat has many advantages over beef which makes it an ideal meat alternative for the health conscious.
For one, buffalo meat has 70% to 90% less fat than beef and half the cholesterol. Further, because they are stronger than domestic animals, they don’t require growth hormones and artificial substances to get them to size. In appearance, buffalo meat is similar to beef except that it has a darker reddish color. Connoisseurs however say that buffalo meat has more flavor than beef and is just as tender.
Buffalo is also as versatile as beef and has similar cuts. It can be used in any beef recipe but has to be prepared and cooked differently because it cooks faster than beef due to the absence of fat within the muscle. Fat acts as an insulator which tends to slow down cooking time so with less fat content, the meat will cook faster.
To prepare a buffalo steak, experts advise putting olive oil on each side before cooking in order to keep the meat moist. The key is to go “low and slow”. One should turn the buffalo steak over often and cook at a lower heat than steak. Also use slower cooking times but avoid overcooking the buffalo as this could dry the meat out. If you are using a gas grill, experts also advise keeping the lid closed to keep the moisture in. If you are cooking buffalo meat in the broiler meantime, it is advised to move the oven rack a notch lower than what you would use to broil beef. Chefs however advise against using a broiler to cook buffalo meat. If you are using the stove, the stove should be turned to medium. Ground buffalo meat can also be used as a substitute for ground beef but it is well to remember that buffalo does not shrink in size when cooked.
In general, an 8 ounce buffalo steak will take about 10 minutes to prepare medium. Studies show that buffalo cooked at a medium temperature produces the tastiest results but if you want your buffalo steak well done, you may want to consider cooking at a very low temperature (180 – 200F) and for at least 10 hours. When cooking buffalo steak, the basic guidelines to remember are to use lower heat and to retain the moisture. One way of sealing in buffalo’s natural juices is to sear the meat on both sides. Because, buffalo cooks faster, you should expect that compared to beef cooked to the same degree of doneness, buffalo steaks or burgers will be ready faster.
Paired with onions, mushrooms or your favorite seasoning; buffalo is offering meat lovers a variety of natural and healthy ways to enjoy their meals.