Cooking Tips for Buffalo

Buffalo meat is naturally tender and extremely flavorful. However, the taste and tenderness of the meat is directly related to how the meat is cooked.

The buffalo meat should be cooked slowly at low to medium temperatures. Buffalo meat cooks faster than beef. As there is no fat to act as an insulator to the meat, the meat is cooked directly.

Recommended cooking range is rare to medium and internal temperatures should be 135 degrees - 155 degrees Fahrenheit.

Steaks

Buffalo steaks come in a wide variety of cuts, all comparable with beef. Most butchers and/or meat producers will cut steaks to customer specifications (1”-1 1/4” are preferred).

Methods of cooking steaks include: grilling (outdoor or on top of stove), pan sautéing, broiling, and stir frying. Do not overcook; readjust thinking as well as the heat source.

Grilling time will vary depending on the temperature of the coals and whether the meat is placed on or off the rack. An instant read thermometer comes in handy for outdoor grilling. Remember to pull the steak off or out of the heat when it is slightly rarer than you like. The steaks will continue to cook when it is out of direct heat.

Steaks do not need additional liquid, sauces or marinades unless desired. Frequent turning of the meat is recommended.

Ground

Ground buffalo meat comes from a variety of cuts: trimming from steaks, chuck, rib section, hump, shank, and less tender roast areas.

Cooking Tips or Bison MeatThis lean ground meat is delicious simply as a burger or made into a variety of diverse recipes. Ground buffalo can be incorporated into a multitude of familiar dishes. Methods of cooking ground buffalo include: grilling (outdoor or on top of stove), broiling, and pan sautéing (covered or uncovered). Keep in mind that buffalo cooks faster and remains the same size throughout cooking.

As with other types of buffalo meat, cook this meat low, slow, and lightly browned.

The buffalo meat should be cooked slowly at low to medium temperatures. Buffalo meat cooks faster than beef. As there is no fat to act as an insulator to the meat, the meat is cooked directly.

Recommended cooking range is rare to medium and internal temperatures should be 135 degrees - 155 degrees Fahrenheit.

Roasts
When preparing a roast, preheat the oven to 275-325 degrees. Let the roast come to room temperature prior to cooking. When ready, cook consistently at one temperature throughout the coking process. Use a meat thermometer to keep an accurate register of internal temperature, inserting the pointed end of the meat thermometer into the thickest portion of the roast. If the roast is not deboned, make sure the thermometer is placed in the meat with no interference. Instant read thermometers are an alternative to the standard meat thermometer; this thermometer is not to be left in the meat during the cooking process. An instant read is a quick response thermometer which probes the meat and provides you with the internal temperature.

Less tender cuts of meat require liquid or marinade to aid in the cooking process, i.e. chuck, hump, and round roasts. Acidic liquids and marinades also aid in the tenderization. Browning all sides of the roast will also help with the retention of moisture. The usual cooking rules do not apply with these cuts; they need to be cooked longer - until the meat becomes tender.

Tenderloin, rib eye, and top round roasts require no liquids or sauces, although they may be used. These roasts should only be cooked from rare to medium-rare range.

There are numerous methods of cooking bison roasts; it truly becomes a matter of preference. Options include: slow cookers, plastic cooking bags, foil-wrapped low roasters, dutch ovens, brown bags, and uncovered low pans suitable for oven use.

Handling and Storage of Buffalo Meat
As with any meat, make sure your hands are washed and clean before handling (as well as any equipment that is to be used in the cooking process).

Storage of fresh buffalo is best in the coldest section of the refrigerator. Some refrigerators have the capacity to change coldness settings; if there is a great deal of meat to store, you may want to select that option. Ground buffalo should not remain uncooked for more than a couple of days; roasts and steaks, no longer than four days. In any case, the meat should be in unopened packages and used as quickly as possible to retain freshness.

Producers freeze buffalo meat at -10 degrees F. to -30 degrees F. for preservational purposes. When meat is quick frozen, it allows for the smallest amount of crystallization and extinguishes or arrests potential organisms that produce spoilage. The meat is then stored a 0 degrees F.; and if kept frozen the meat will retain its freshness for at least a nine-month period.

To defrost buffalo meat, the USDA recommends placing it in the refrigerator for twenty-four hours to defrost slowly. Microwaves have the capability to defrost - a note of warning - if not carefully monitored, parts of the meat will actually begin to cook and appear brown in color. Meat can be cooked from the frozen stage - again a note of warning - this process must be closely monitored and internal temperature checked. Once the meat is pliable, insert a meat thermometer or cut (to be visually judged).

Like all other meats, do not re-freeze once defrosted.



* These Cooking Directions are from “The Buffalo Cookbook”, author: Ruth Mossok Johnston, copyright 1995