What it is: A boneless buffalo (bison) roast
Bonnie: I thought of waiting until the holiday season to write about this, but with Marian Burros’ article in last Wednesday’s Times on buffalo’s comeback, I thought I’d share this now. Just be sure to remember it come special holiday dinners!
Marian wrote, “Today buffalo meat…has achieved an enviable position: simultaneous praise from chefs, nutritionists and environmentalists. At last, steak without guilt.”
Oh, so true. It’s delicious, lower in total fat than beef, higher in (the better for you) unsaturated fats and rich in iron. Buffalo is not only for the adventurous or those with sophisticated palates; it’s for anyone who enjoys a juicy tender steak.
Think the most tender beef you’ve ever eaten.
Seriously. I’ve been lucky, having enjoyed buffalo many times, savoring its rich lean juicy flavor. The only thing you can do wrong is to overcook it!
I recall one dinner at The Fort—located just outside Denver, in Morrison, Colorado—with the late Sam Arnold, his daughter and now proprietor, Holly, and her husband Jeremy, where we luxuriated in buffalo and so many of their other delicacies, including Rocky Mountain oysters.
Yes, they are bull’s balls; and no, I’m not looking forward to experiencing that again.
But I did suggest they consider selling their unusual offerings mail-order (with the exception of those testicles!). They had a trusted name and access to the foods.
Back-tracking a second.
I met Holly—the daughter of the bigger than life late Sam Arnold—at a Nestle’s food editor event at the Ritz Carlton in Pasadena more than 20 years ago. She was representing Perugina chocolate; I was a newspaper food editor; we were both single women running our own businesses—we clicked, bonding on so many levels, and have stayed connected over the years—through many of each other’s joys, sorrows, successes, failures…
In 2003 Holly did open The Fort Trading Company – selling the restaurant’s specialties. To thank me again for both encouraging her to do so and for championing her new business, Holly sent me a buffalo roast to wish me happy holidays this year.
When Eric visited, I cooked the roast for him and his friends – as his welcome home meal. Having never cooked a buffalo roast before, I carefully read the materials that accompanied the roast. Specifically,
Sam’s Cooking Tips: Slow oven roasting is best … because the low temperature will not drive out all of the delicious juices… We recommend cooking a roast at 250 degrees for 18 minutes per pound or until a meat thermometer reads 125 degrees for rare or 138 degrees for medium-rare. Because buffalo is so lean, you should never overcook it or it will become tough. Remove the roast from the oven and allow it to rest for 15 to 20 minutes before carving. The temperature will rise about 10 degrees while resting, bringing the meat to the correct serving temperature.
Bonnie’s Tweaks to Sam’s Cooking Tips: My gut told me to cook this just a little differently; I did and the roast was cooked to perfection.
First drizzle the roast with a drop or two of olive oil and rub with a favorite rub. (I used The Fort’s rub for bison which married perfectly with the meat.) Roast the buffalo in a preheated 500-degree oven for 15 minutes; reduce the heat to 250 degrees and continue to cook about 15 to 17 minutes a pound until—as above—a meat thermometer reads 125 degrees for rare or 138 degrees for medium-rare. Do not overcook. And then, as Sam said, let it rest – as you should all roasts – for at least 15 minutes.
The buffalo needs nothing with it. Meaning no sauce or condiment. It’s that delicious. The 4-pound roast was enough meat for 10 to 12 people, but with a table full of hearty gen-Xers, we had almost nothing left. Actually we had one small slice; I don’t think anyone wanted to take the last piece.
Bryan: Buffalo’s leaner and (depending on the cut) more tender than ‘regular’ beef. In my opinion, Buffalo is an up-and-coming entrée staple in America that has already begun its creep into mainstream (Ted Turner’s steakhouse chain, Ted’s Montana Grill, is a good example of this). Whether you’re trying to cut the fat from your diet or are just interested in trying new flavors, the Fort Buffalo Roast is a fantastic foray into a new culinary delight that is sure to please. Using buffalo is as simple as adjusting your classic beef recipes to the shorter cooking time of the leaner meat. Do be aware while cooking though, as this leaner meat can dry out if left too long on the fire. Buffalo, try it; you’ll likely find that you like it and may even open yourself up to a whole new world of red meats…did someone say ostrich or kangaroo?
Eric: I would never say my brother and I were raised with a silver spoon in each of our mouths; however, I would easily say that we were raised with a fork and knife in each hand. Both of us have been inundated with food, and knowledge about food, since our youth, and have had the privileged opportunity to dine in some of the finest restaurants and taste a myriad of unique foods (ostrich, kangaroo, sweetbreads…just to name a few). Compared to many other meats, steak ranks very low with me. I would easily choose a rack of ribs over a tender sirloin, and would certainly choose any piece of the “magical” pig over beef, but the day I tried the The Fort Buffalo Roast with the perfectly spiced rub that was included, was the day I started my love affair with buffalo. This is by far one of the juiciest, tenderest, finger-licking pieces of meat I ever had the privilege to eat (of course cooked properly by a knowledgeable chef). I still am not a steak eater, but if I ever have the opportunity to indulge in this roast again, I wouldn’t even bother with the bread and potatoes.
Fort Trading Company is offering $10 off their 4-lb. buffalo roast and including the Buffalo Rib Roast Rub (an $8.50 value) for Bite of the Best users. The cost is $85, plus shipping. Once you complete your order use the code BOTB07 in their “Redeem Coupon” box. (click here)
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