Posts Tagged 'buffalo'

Buffalo Bone Soup

I have been having some odd experiences.  On at least 4 occasions, people I have known for a long time, but perhaps not seen for a while have stared at me with a puzzled expression, not seeming to recognize me.  One person came up to me after a committee meeting and told me that she didn’t know who I was until I said my name in the introductions.  Now this seems strange to me, because when I look in the mirror, particularly when I am in the buff, I feel like I look exactly like I always have – pale, pink and flabby.  My face looks the same, although I have more neck, and I am still a short, somewhat plump redhead.  I know empirically that I must be different – the scale says so and my pants are too big – but unrecognizable?  It’s disquieting.

This recipe is really a variation on my mother’s soup with flanken.  Flanken are very fatty little bits of short ribs which are too fatty to use in most dishes.  I haven’t seen buffalo bones, except for T-bone and other steaks.  But this week there were buffalo ribs in the meat case along with the usual cuts.  The butcher and I agreed that these might not make good barbecue, so I decided on soup.  Really, you need bones to make a rich meat soup.

This is an imprecise recipe, because you can add a bit of whatever you want. My mother always used this soup mix as the base of her soup.  This makes a thick, porridge-like soup.


Buffalo Bone Soup

2 pounds of buffalo bones
7 cups of water
soup mix
¼ cup barley
½ of a large onion, chopped
other things to add if you like
1 cup of dried shitake mushroom (small pieces)
a carrot, chopped
a stalk of celery, chopped
chopped parsley
Salt and pepper to taste

Trim as much fat as you can off the meat – really, if they are ribs you are not going to be able to get most of the fat off.  Place in a large pot and cover with 7 cups of water. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 3 hours, stirring occasionally.  Remove meat from pot and set aside, pour liquid into a large container and chill overnight.  Remove from refrigerator. Great gobs of fat will have solidified on the surface of the soup. Remove them all, using a strainer if necessary.  Measure the soup liquid into a pot and add water or broth until you again have 7 cups of liquid. Add contents of the soup mix plus ¼ cup of barley, and shitake mushrooms if you are using them.  Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 1 ½ hours. Add onion and other vegetables if you are using them and cook for another ½ hour.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  I had intended to chop up the rib meat and add it to the soup, but even after long cooking they were too fatty. This makes about 5 servings of soup, at about 4 grams of fat/serving.  This soup went right into the freezer to take for lunches.


Buffalo Shepherd’s Pie

This recipe makes me giggle. Imagine a buffalo shepherd. What would you use for the shepherd’s staff – a 2 x 4 board with a bow on it?  And do they come home, like Bo Peep’s sheep, waging their big shaggy tails behind them?

Shepherd’s Pie is a savory meat pie topped with a mashed potato crust.  Instead of spooning the meat stew over mashed potatoes, you put the mashed potatoes over the meat and bake it.  It dates from the late 18th century, and was a means of using up – and stretching – leftover roasted meat.  Now it typically is made with lamb or mutton, with the suggested origin being that shepherds are concerned with sheep and not cattle (and certainly not buffalo), however this is probably folklore. There are probably as many recipes for it as there are cooks – a close friend makes it with ground beef and onion soup mix and puts a layer of peas under the potato topping, another makes it with leftover pot roast.

At any rate, someone passed me this recipe because they knew I liked to cook.  The original had beef and lamb mixed. Naturally, I thought buffalo.  I think it may be a British recipe, because they refer to the meat as being “minced”.   I took a number of liberties with the recipe to make a shepherd’s pie that is very tasty and filling – and still low in fat.  An added benefit to this dish is that it can be made ahead, or in stages.  I made the meat filling one day, and put it in the refrigerator in the baking pan.  When I had more time the next day, I made the potato crust and baked it.  I expect you could assemble it completely and refrigerate it to be baked the next day, but you might have to bake it a few minutes longer.

Buffalo Shepherd’s Pie

Cooking spray
1 ½ pounds buffalo roast trimmed of all visible fat and gristle, ground (do not use purchased ground buffalo – it is much higher in fat)
2 medium onions, diced fine – I use the food processor
3 carrots, peeled and diced fine
½ pound cremini or button mushrooms, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon tomato paste
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 Tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 cup red wine
1 can of low sodium, reduced fat beef broth
Salt and pepper to taste
2 pounds Yukon gold or red potatoes
2 Tablespoons light butter
1 cup green onions, finely chopped

If you are making the entire dish to serve immediately, preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Otherwise, preheat it to 400 when you reheat the pie.

To make the filling: Spray a large Dutch oven or non-stick pan with cooking spray. Brown the ground meat over medium high heat, stirring occasionally. Remove meat from pan with a slotted spoon and set aside. Add the onions and carrots to the pan and sauté until they are limp and just beginning to color – about 10 minutes.  Stir occasionally to prevent burning.  Add mushrooms and sauté for an additional 5 minutes.  Add tomato paste, thyme, parsley and cinnamon.  Stir and sauté for 2 minutes.  Stir in the flour, and then add the wine and beef broth.  Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.   Return the meat to the pan, bring to a boil, cover and turn down the heat to low, simmering  for about 30 minutes.  Remove the filling from the heat, and spread in a 9 x 13 pan coated with cooking spray, smoothing it until even.

To make the crust
: Peel the potatoes and cut them into large, even pieces.  Place in a pot of water and cook until the potatoes are tender.  Drain the potatoes thoroughly, add the 2 tablespoons of light butter, and mash until smooth. Mash the green onions into the  potatoes. Spoon the potatoes over the filling and spread evenly to cover the meat.  Bake at 400 for about 25 minutes, until the crust begins to brown.  This makes 8 hearty servings at 4 grams of fat/serving.

Variation: If you wanted to substitute ½ pound of very lean ground lamb for ½ pound of the buffalo, it would have a more “British” feel, and would be about 6 grams of fat/serving.

Hint: I grind my own meat so that I know how much fat is in it.  Store-purchased ground meat tends to be fatty, even the beef that is labeled “extra lean” has almost 5 grams/ounce.  I used to grind eye of round – 1.2 grams/ounce, and now I grind buffalo – .6 grams/ounce.  I usually grind a large amount of meat using the electric grinder on my KitchenAid.  It is a big, all-morning production. I just discovered that it is possible to grind a pound of so of meat by cutting it into medium sized chunks and pulsing it in the food processor.  This has interesting implications for ground chicken and pork, to be experimented with soon.

Hint: Tomato Paste is one of those annoying ingredients that you tend to need a spoonful of, but it doesn’t come in single spoon packages.  I have been freezing the leftover tomato paste in a plastic zip-top bag, and then I can defrost slightly it when I need a bit and refreeze it.

Warning: this pie is very filling.  Every time I eat a slab, I have the overwhelming desire to curl up under a down blanket and take a nap.  Maybe it’s the weather.

Big Red Buffalo Chili

Chili is a dish that has regional variations, and aficionados that advocate for the right way to make this satisfying dish.  Traditionally, chili is a spicy stew made from chili peppers, meat, garlic, onions, and cumin.  In some places they add macaroni, beans, or other stuff. Sacrilege. This is a Texas chili, with a deep red color created by the ancho chilies.


Texas-style chili contains no beans, tomatoes, or other vegetables besides chili peppers. By the way, chili con carne is the official dish of the state of Texas.

Big Red Buffalo Chili

2 dried red ancho chilies
2 pounds of buffalo roast, cut into quarter inch pieces
1 Tablespoon canola oil
2 teaspoons ground cumin, or more to taste
1 teaspoon oregano
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
Salt to tase
2 tablespoons brown sugar (optional)

Preparing the ancho chilies: Remove the stems and seeds from the pods.  I did this by cutting them in half with a scissors (see hint) and shaking the seeds out. Simmer the pods over low hear in water until they are tender. Allow to cool.  Press the simmered peppers through a sieve or strainer to separate the pulp from the skins.  I found this hard to do, but I may have used a strainer with too small of a mesh.  Discard the skins, which tend to be bitter.

Heat the  canola oil in a large pot.  Saute the meat in the oil until it turns grey (you don’t have to really brown it.). Add the ancho chili puree to the meat, and cover with 2 inches of water. Don’t put in too much water, like I did, or you will have to cook it down forever. Bring to a boil, then turn down the heat and simmer 30 minutes. Add the cumin, oregano, garlic, salt, and brown sugar if you’re using it.  Cover and cook for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.  Add a little water if the meat starts to stick.  This is one of those dishes that tastes better the next day when the flavors blend. It makes 6 servings at 6 grams of fat/serving. Top with onions and/or 1/2 ounce  shredded reduced fat cheese/serving (adding 3 grams of fat/serving).


Variation: add beans if you must.

Hint: When you handle chili peppers, wear protective gloves. Otherwise, the volatile chemical capsaicin will get on your skin.  It is very difficult to wash off. The capsaicin will burn whatever it touches – your eyes (this is the voice of experience), lips, other sensitive areas, and even your baby or dog.

Hint and warning: Cayenne pepper is potent stuff. Add it gradually until you have the right heat for your taste.  I got carried away and made it too spicy

Buffalo Borscht

When I was growing up, borscht was this red soup made from beets that came in a bottle. You poured it in a bowl, plopped some sour cream in the middle, and ate. But recently I discovered that there is a whole different kind of borscht, which is a sweet and sour cabbage soup. It tastes like my mother’s stuffed cabbage, one of the favorite foods of my youth, which she only made for special occasions. Actually, I remember liking the cabbage and the sauce better than the filling.

To make borscht, you cook meat to make a broth, then add the other ingredients. The meat typically was flanken, a cut of beef (short ribs) that appears to consist of bone, gristle, and fat, Clearly, this had to be updated. So get out the soup pot.

Buffalo Borscht (Sweet and Sour Cabbage Soup)

Cooking spray
1 1/2 pound buffalo roast, trimmed of all visible fat and cut in 1/2 to 1 inch pieces (I used bottom round)
1 large onion, coarsely diced
2 quarts of water
3 14 ounce cans of chopped tomatoes, undrained
1/2 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 large head of cabbage, cored and shredded

Spray the bottom of the soup pot with cooking spray. Brown the buffalo pieces, stirring occasionally. Be sure they get nice and brown to make a rich broth. When the meat is browned, add the 2 quarts of water. Stir so that all the browned bits on the bottom are mixed in the broth. Add the onion. Cover and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 2 hours, stirring once or twice. Stir in the tomatoes, lemon juice, brown sugar, and salt. Allow to simmer while you shred the cabbage. I cut the cabbage in eighths lengthwise, and then cut it in half inch slices across. Taste the soup and adjust the seasonings to your own sense of sweet and sourness. You’ll probably have to adjust it again after the cabbage cooks. Add the cabbage and stir well. Simmer for another 2 hours, stirring occasionally. Adjust seasonings (lemon juice, brown sugar, and salt) at the end of the cooking. I usually put soup in the refrigerator overnight to remove the fat, but when I did, there was absolutely no fat on the soup surface. It is hard to estimate the number of servings for this soup – it makes a lot. I estimate a 2 cup serving to be 2 grams of fat. Serve hot (it reheats very well) And yes, you can plop a dollop of fat free sour cream on it.

Variation: Some people add diced carrots, celery, or even beets to this.  I don’t. I like my cabbage straight up.

Down Home Buffalo Swiss Steak

There are definitely days when I’m not feeling very gourmet, and the slow cooker is my best buddy.  These are days when you want something hearty and comforting – and frankly that will make good leftovers.  Enter Swiss  Steak, something I remember from diners of my youth (or horrors, was it the school cafeteria?) And why is it Swiss, anyway?  Naturally, I used buffalo to lower the fat count.

Buffalo Swiss Steak

3 pounds of buffalo steak, preferably rump or chuck.  Don’t waste a succulent T-bone on this
1 large onion
1/4 cup of all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 15 ounce can of stewed tomatoes
1 can of tomato soup concentrate, undiluted

Cut onion in half lengthwise and then slice thinly lengthwise. Put onion in the bottom of a slow cooker.  Mix flour, salt, and pepper on a piece of waxed paper.  Trim buffalo steak of all visible fat, and cut into serving size pieces (6-8 pieces). Dredge both sides of the meat in the flour mixture (This means press them into the mixture so that the flour adheres to the meat.) Put the meat on top of the onions in the slow cooker.  Pour the can of stewed tomatoes and the can of undiluted tomato soup over the meat and onion.  Turn the slow cooker to low and cook for 6-8 hours.  This has about 5 grams of fat per hearty 6 ounce serving

I served this with mashed potatoes.  You now how to make fat free mashed potatoes, don’t you – not the kind with cream and butter your mother used to make.  Cut potatoes into eighths. Put them in a pot and cover with fat free chicken broth.  Bring to a boil, and then simmer until potatoes are tender.  Drain broth, saving it in a cup.  Mash potatoes with a potato masher, adding bits of the broth to moisten the potatoes as you mash.

Buffalo Pot Roast

The primary reason I rush out to buy buffalo is to make buffalo pot roast. There is something about buffalo roast – a sweetness or a richness, that makes a really fine pot roast. Now I confess that I don’t make an elaborate pot roast with browning and simmered vegetables and the like the way my daughter does. She makes the true, old-fashioned pot roast. I’m sure that you could make buffalo with that recipe, too. And it would taste very good, indeed.

I, however, make the working woman’s quick, easy, and delicious pot roast – you know, the one with onion soup. And everyone raves about it thinking that I have worked my little fingers to the bone preparing this rich and lovely dish. I made it last year to feed the assembled multitudes at Passover, which led to a heated discussion of whether buffalo was kosher (although none of us actually keep kosher). I referred them to the Kosher Buffalo site, and verily the rules of kashrut (that’s the rules of what makes something acceptably kosher) state that if the beast has cloven hooves and chews the cud, it is acceptable. Buffalo hooves are cloveneth and the big beasts cheweth, so they’re ok.

Anyway, I made 9 pounds of buffalo pot roast this time. This recipe makes less, but you can double it or even more if you’ve got a big enough pot. Plan to make this ahead of when you want to eat this.

Buffalo Pot Roast

about 4 lbs buffalo roast, visible fat removed (preferably some kind of round or rump roast)
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
1 package beefy onion or other onion soup mix
about 1/2 pound of button mushrooms, sliced (optional, but why would you want to leave them out)
*Kitchen Bouquet

Place the chopped onion in the bottom of a large pot, such as a Dutch oven. Place the buffalo roast(s) in the pot on top of the onions. Sprinkle the onion soup mix over and around the roasts. Put the mushrooms on top of the whole thing. Add water half way up the sides of the buffalo roast. Add Kitchen Bouquet to the liquid until it is the color that you want it to be.

  • *If you’ve never used Kitchen Bouquet, it is a browning and seasoning sauce containing caramel, and a vegetable base of carrots, onions, celery, parsnips, turnips, salt, parsley, and spices, and is commonly available in supermarkets. It is a true friend of the sometimes lazy cook.

Bring the pot roast to a boil over high heat, lower the heat to a simmer, and cook for 4 hours, turning the roast occasionally, and making sure that the mushrooms are immersed in the liquid. You read correctly – you haven’t browned the meat or sautéed the onions first. You don’t need to. When the pot roast is done, remove it from the liquid and wrap separately. Remove the onion and mushroom solids, which have cooked down to a glorious soft mass, and store them in a separate container. Pour the liquid into a separate container. Refrigerate for 4 hours, or overnight – or even for two days as I did because I was busy. Remove the fat – there won’t be much – from the surface of the liquid before reheating.

To serve, slice the meat thickly and reheat in the liquid with the reserved vegetables for about 20 minutes. A serving of 6 ounces of meat and gravy has about 4 grams of fat.

Variations: You can cook carrots with this, although they cook down so they’re not really distinct. I often add vegetables, such as green beans, when I’m reheating the pot roast. You can thicken the gravy when reheating it by adding 2 teaspoons of cornstarch mixed into a tablespoon of cold water and stirred into the gravy. Cook until the gravy thickens and is clear.

Usually, I serve the pot roast over noodles or rice or even couscous, but I was too lazy to do that, so I made and open face pot roast sandwich on some nice whole wheat bread.

But one of the real reasons that I make buffalo pot roast is that it freezes and reheats so well. It is one of my favorite “I’m too tired to think after work” dishes. Put it in the microwave, add a couple of frozen vegetables if you’d like, and it’s dinner. And here is yet another principle. Have low fat, satisfying things to eat for dinner when you’re tired so that you don’t make dinner out of crackers and cheese (me? Never would I do such a thing.)

Pot roast ready for the freezer in 6 ounce servings, with gravy and solids added.

It’s Buffalo Week!

Every six weeks or so, my local Fred Meyer store features fresh buffalo – that’s right, steaks, roasts, and other delicious portions of the American Bison. Typically, I race down the hill to the store to stock up, cooking and freezing it when I get home. Other than the occasional restaurant meal, I have switched to buffalo for my red meat dishes. I will now extol the virtues of buffalo:

  • With visible fat removed, a 3.5 ounce serving of buffalo is just over 2 grams of fat, for virtually all cuts of the meat. (Not so ground buffalo or buffalo burgers, which are higher in fat.) Of the lean cuts of beef, 3.5 oz of flank steak are 8.0 grams, bottom round 9.4, top sirloin 7.9, T-bone steak 10.3. This is a major virtue to someone like me who sometimes wants to eat red meat.
  • Buffalo spend their lives eating grass. They are not subjected to questionable drugs, chemicals or hormones. The members of the National Bison Association feel so strongly about this that they have a resolution opposing the use of these substances in the production of Bison for meat
  • Lest you think that buffalo is strong, gamey or tough, it actually tastes like high quality beef. The T-bone steaks we had earlier this week were fork tender after grilling. I expect that if you did a blindfolded taste test, you couldn’t tell the difference
  • Buffalo used to be more expensive than beef, but with the rising cost of beef, the relative cost of buffalo is now competitive to the price of good quality beef.
  • No, they are not endangered!

Enough of the extolling. On with the recipe:

Buffalo Kebabs with Creamy Grilled Onion Sauce

1/4 cup light balsamic vinaigrette dressing
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon paprika

1 pound of buffalo meat, visible fat removed. I used top sirloin, but a round roast or other roast would also work
A mix of grillable vegetables. I used 16 medium mushrooms, 2 zucchini, 1 red pepper, 1 yellow pepper, and a medium onion. You could also substitute eggplant for one of the vegetables. This amount will give you enough for an extra skewer of grilled vegetables.

Mix marinade ingredients in a small bowl. Cut buffalo meat up into 16 approximately even cubes (this will give you 4 cubes/skewer). Place buffalo cubes and marinade into a quart-size zip top plastic bag and zip closed. Mush around so that the meat is completely covered. Place in the refrigerator and marinate for 2-4 hours, turning occasionally.

Cut vegetables into chunks – mushrooms whole, peppers into about 12 pieces, onion into eighths, zucchini or eggplant into 1 or 2 inch thick pieces. String meat and vegetables alternately onto skewers, 4 chunks of meat and as many vegetables as you can fit on a skewer. Grill over medium heat for about 6 minutes per side, or until done to your liking. About 5 grams of fat/skewer.

My kebabs got a little too well done for my taste, because it was well after dark when we started grilling , and my motion sensitive outside light didn’t seem to think that grilling created enough motion. Grilling by flashlight is not the greatest idea. But they were still very tasty.

Creamy Grilled Onion Sauce

I got this recipe from the blog of Coconut and Lime, a wonderfully inspirational source of original recipes. I was trying to find something to go with the kebabs that would taste good with the grilled vegetables, but wouldn’t take hours to make (it was, after all, already past 9 p.m. when I hauled the marinated buffalo cubes out of the refrigerator and we were starving). I also had an excess of green onions and I never tasted a grilled green onion.

1/4 cup chopped green onions, green parts only
2 Tablespoons non-fat sour cream
2 Tablespoons low-fat mayonnaise
2 Tablespoons non-fat yogurt
1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/8 teaspoon white paper
salt to taste

Grill onions by placing them on a grill over medium heat, 3 minutes to a side. You could grill the onions at the same time as the kebabs, but, as I have pointed out, it was dark, and I decided to deal with only one thing grilling at a time. Chop the green parts of the onions coarsely – the white part made a tasty snack as I continued to cook.

Whisk together the sour cream, mayonnaise, yogurt, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper. Mix the chopped green onion into the sour cream mixture and serve with the kebabs. 1/4 of this sauce has about 1 gram of fat.


I have lost 200 pounds. I did not do it through surgery – I don’t like knives and needles – or by joining a club, vigorous exercise, or rigorous dieting. I did it by gourmet cooking. To be precise, by cooking low fat, really delicious food. I love to cook as much as I love to eat. Food magazines are some of my favorite reading. I would feel deprived if I couldn’t have the sensuous experience of good food crossing my lips. This blog is about my perpetual feast, my passionate love of food, with recipes, photos, and occasional advice and principles that I have learned along the way.

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