Buffalo — A Tasty and Healthier Alternative to Beef

| June 29, 2010 | 2 Comments

Until we moved to Salem, I had never seen buffalo meat for sale at markets. But ever since we moved here, I’ve been curious because I’ve always associated buffalo with the West. And it turns out that you can easily find buffalo meat here at Lifesource, an organic food store, and at Salem’s Saturday Market. One of the vendors usually at Salem’s Saturday Market is Cascade Buffalo Ranch. Recently, I stopped to find out more about buffalo meat and their operation, and ended up bringing home several cuts to try.

Photo courtesy of Cascade Buffalo Ranch

Cascade Buffalo Ranch is located in the foothills of the scenic Cascade mountains of Northwest Oregon.  They specialize in raising buffalo, synonymous with bison, for lean healthy red meat, breeding stock and an assortment of by-products. Their buffalo are raised on natural grasses and hay. No growth hormones, antibiotics or other questionable drugs are fed to their buffalo. So when you purchase meat from them, you know you’re getting a quality product . In addition to many cuts of buffalo meat, Cascade Buffalo Ranch also produces dog food made from ground buffalo, chicken livers, rice and carrots. Cascade Buffalo Ranch sells different cuts of buffalo meat by the pound, frozen in vacuum-sealed plastic. They also sell discounted packages. It’s a great way to try a variety of cuts at a reasonable price. For instance, the small buffalo sampler ($38) comes with 3 pounds of ground buffalo, 1 pound top sirloin steak and 1 pound of sirloin tips.

Eldon and Alice Metz are the owners of Cascade Buffalo Ranch. They’re very friendly and are happy to answer questions.

Alice said they developed the business as a way of using the acreage they own just east of Salem. At first they were renting their land to a sheep farmer, but decided after doing a year of research and visiting other operations that they would take a leap and get into the buffalo-raising business. They started with a few and now their herd has grown to 70.

Besides selling their buffalo meat at the Salem Saturday Market, they also supply Lifesource (a natural food store in Salem), Coos Head Food Store (a natural food store in Coos Bay), and Reedsport Natural Foods (a natural food store in Reedsport). They also sell their buffalo directly from their website and will ship anywhere in the United States via 2-day UPS. The meat is shipped frozen in ice packs, and customers are asked to send back the ice packs so that they can be re-used.

Buffalo meat has a rich flavor, like well aged beef but much leaner. According to the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, buffalo has only 2.42 grams of fat per 100 grams of cooked lean meat, compared to 9.28 grams for beef, 9.66 grams for pork, and 7.41 grams for chicken. Because of the lower fat content in buffalo meat, if you’re cooking steaks you should sear it to seal in the juices and finish cooking it at a lower temperature than you would regular beef. Also, because of the lower fat content, buffalo meat will cook a lot quicker than beef. If you’re using ground buffalo meat for burgers, a good technique to retain moisture is to incorporate chopped onions or chopped mushrooms into the ground meat and make sure that your patties are no less than ½-inch thick so they won’t dry out.

Buffalo rib-eye steaks topped with an oyster mushroom pinot noir sauce.

Buffalo Rib-eye Steaks with Oyster Mushroom and Pinot Noir Reduction Sauce

  1. Buffalo rib-eye steaks, covered with olive oil and seasoned with salt and pepper
  2. 3 tablespoons (45 ml.) unsalted butter
  3. ½ pound (230 gr.) oyster mushrooms, chopped coarsely
  4. 4 cups (950 ml.) pinot noir
  • In a non-reactive medium-sized pan, melt butter over medium heat and sauté mushrooms until they’re wilted.
  • Add pinot noir, reduce heat and simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally until liquid is reduced by half. Season with salt and pepper to taste and turn off heat.
  • Cook buffalo steaks on grill over medium heat or sear in pan over high heat and finish cooking over medium heat until it reaches the temperature you wish. When the internal temperature reaches 130° F (54° C), which is medium rare for beef, the buffalo will be medium.
  • Let steaks rest a few minutes on a plate before topping with the mushroom sauce and serving.

Ground buffalo makes very tasty and healthy burgers.

Buffalo burgers

  1. 1 pound (455 gr.) ground buffalo
  2. ½ teaspoon (2.5 ml.) salt
  3. ½ teaspoon (2.5 ml.) ground black pepper
  4. ½ medium-sized sweet yellow onion, finely chopped
  5. 3-4 mushrooms, finely chopped (optional)
  6. 2 tablespoons (30 ml.) Worcestershire sauce
  7. 2 hamburger buns or kaiser rolls sliced in half
  8. lettuce leaves
  9. 1 tomato sliced
  10. slices of red onion
  11. mayonnaise and mustard to taste
  1. In a bowl, combine ground buffalo, salt, pepper, Worcestershire sauce, chopped onions and chopped mushrooms and mix thoroughly.
  2. Form 2 patties about ¾ of an inch (about 2 cm.) thick and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  3. Over medium heat, grill or pan-fry with 2 tablespoons (30 ml.) of oil in the pan until burgers are done.
  4. Serve on buns with tomato slices, red onion slices, lettuce, mayonnaise and mustard to taste.


— Vic

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Category: Meat

About the Author (Author Profile)

Victor Panichkul is a journalist and writer by training; a cook, wine lover and photographer by passion; and a lover of the outdoors since moving to Oregon more than 10 years ago. He is a native of Bangkok, Thailand.

Comments (2)

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  1. Marlene says:


    You make buffalo meat sound good even to a vegaterian.


  2. VPanichkul says:

    Thanks Marlene!

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