Often labeled as “bison” or “American buffalo” in supermarkets across the world, buffalo provides an interesting and unique substitute for beef in many classic recipes. Ground buffalo can replace beef in spaghetti and tacos, and buffalo steaks can be grilled similarly to traditional beef steaks. Also, buffalo contains lower amounts of fat than beef and many other meats, and it’s often raised without the use of growth hormones or antibiotics.
Buffalo has become more prevalent in supermarkets around North America with the increased demand for natural, healthier beef alternatives. Commonly sold in ground form and as steaks, buffalo is growing as a versatile and interesting protein option for burgers, stews, and meat sauces.
Red in color, buffalo meat has a distinct appearance compared to beef. Buffalo is commonly sold in its ground form, often packaged with clear plastic wrap in the speciality section of meat departments. Buffalo steaks and patties are also sold, also displaying a deep, dark red color.
Buffalo has a slightly coarse texture both in raw and cooked form. Ground buffalo often masks this texture, especially when incorporated into soups and stews. Although somewhat similar to beef, buffalo often has a sweeter taste and aroma. This can depend on the spices and herbs that go into the meat during cooking.
Buffalo is widely available at many grocery stores across North America, but is most often available in specialty stores and natural food markets. More conventional grocery stores are beginning to carry buffalo options for customers. Farmers’ markets may also sell buffalo meat, especially in areas where buffalo are plentiful, such as Wyoming, Utah, and Oklahoma.
Color is the most important consideration when purchasing buffalo. If buffalo meat has a dark red hue in its raw form, this indicates that it is fresh. If unpackaged, buffalo meat should display a slightly sweet fragrance.
Never choose buffalo that has a strong and distinct odor. Be wary of raw buffalo that lacks a deep, dark red hue. A bland pink color can indicate that the meat isn’t fresh. This can compromise the taste of the meal, and low-quality meats may correlate with low-quality production methods.
Most buffalo are considered free-range and are not given antibiotics or growth hormones. Therefore, it isn’t completely necessary that buffalo should be purchased organic.
Fresh, raw buffalo should be stored in sealed plastic bags to avoid leakage and prevent cross-contamination between the meat and other cooked foods or produce. When properly stored at a temperature below 40°F, raw buffalo keeps for three to five days. Frozen raw buffalo can be kept indefinitely; however, it is best to use the meat within a year.
Cooked buffalo meat should be stored in airtight plastic or glass containers. If stored properly, buffalo leftovers can keep in the refrigerator for about a week. Cooked ground buffalo can keep in the freezer for about four months, and cooked steaks can be frozen for up to nine months.
Preparing buffalo is similar to preparing beef; however, buffalo does not marble during cooking. If using ground buffalo to replace beef in hamburgers, spaghetti, or meatloaf, simply substitute the ingredients 1:1. Buffalo or bison steaks should be rubbed with steak seasonings (pepper, thyme, salt, cayenne, garlic powder, etc.) before cooking and may also benefit from a marinade.
Ground buffalo can be pan-cooked in a shallow frying pan. Although adding a teaspoon of olive oil will bring out the flavor, this addition isn’t necessary. As mentioned earlier, buffalo steaks should be marinated or rubbed with steak seasoning before cooking. Braising and other moist-heat methods are all common ways to cook buffalo steaks. Buffalo that has been sliced thinly can often benefit from being pan-fried in olive oil or butter.
Buffalo should be cooked at low temperatures (not to exceed 325°F) and should cook longer than beef or poultry. Ground buffalo should be cooked to an internal temperature of 165°F, whereas buffalo steaks should reach an internal temperature of 145°F.
Composed of amino acids (building blocks of protein), this essential nutrient aids in the healing of wounds and the growth of hair, skin, and nails; provides a substantial amount of energy and satiation; catalyzes metabolic reactions; and promotes a healthy hormonal and immune system response.
Iron is an essential trace mineral that transports oxygen in red blood cells from the lungs to the rest of the body, aiding energy and endurance.
Zinc offers a host of health benefits, aiding the body’s sense of taste, vision, and smell, and also plays a role in blood clotting, thyroid and metabolism health, and insulin sensitivity. This abundant mineral is also helpful for promoting immune system health and skin repair.
Although commonly described as a mineral, selenium behaves like an antioxidant, helping to reduce the number of free radicals in the body. This may aid in slowing the visible signs of aging, protecting cardiovascular health, and promoting the immune system.
Provides structural support to DNA and RNA, works with calcium in the formation of tooth enamel and bone, helps to filter wastes out of the kidneys, and regulates energy. Phosphorus also plays an integral role in cardiovascular health and repairing cells and tissues throughout the body.
All B vitamins play an essential role for releasing energy within the cell, helping to promote regular and sustained energy and endurance levels. B vitamins support cell metabolism as well as the metabolism of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats.
Buffalo is highly sought after for its high-quality protein, which is greater than that in most beef and poultry. All meat is a complete protein, meaning it contains all essential amino acids needed by the human body. These amino acids are helpful for skin and bone repair, especially during physical trauma.
Due to its relatively high selenium content, buffalo may be helpful in building immune system health. Selenium has also been discussed as a powerful anti-aging nutrient that can combat free radicals associated with physical and mental aging.
Increased energy is another possible health benefit associated with consuming buffalo, as this meat is a valuable source of vitamin B12. This vitamin is responsible for releasing energy within the cells that maintain the body’s energy levels throughout the day.
1. Buffalo are not given antibiotics or growth hormones, unlike beef and most poultry.
2. According to the National Bison Association, per capita buffalo consumption is estimated at around 0.07 pounds per person per year.
3. Since buffalo does not marble, and has less fat than beef, buffalo is seen as a healthier alternative to traditional beef.