For cooks and diners who love red meat, bison can be an attractive and healthy alternative to beef. Buffalo fillet is just as tender and juicy as beef tenderloin and can be prepared in much the same way. The only difference is that it's much leaner than conventional feedlot beef, which affects how it's cooked. Whether you opt to roast it whole or cut it into steaks, it should be prepared at lower temperatures than beef and is best when cooked only to medium-rare.
Roasting a Fillet
Pull any lumps of surface fat from the fillet. Part of the surface will be covered with a thin, gray-white layer of leathery tissue called "silverskin." Slide the tip of a sharp boning knife under the silverskin, and cut it away from the fillet. Pat the surface dry with clean paper towels.
Heat a heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add a tablespoon of oil, and sear the fillet on all sides until it's well browned.
Season the fillet with salt and pepper or any other flavorings you wish. Transfer the roast to the rack of a small roasting pan.
Place the roast in an oven preheated to 275 degrees Fahrenheit. The low cooking temperature helps keep the lean meat from drying out or toughening.
Roast the fillet until it reaches an internal temperature of 125 to 130 degrees when tested with an instant-read thermometer. Cover the roast loosely with aluminum foil and let it rest for 10 to 15 minutes before carving it.
Remove any silverskin and visible fat from your fillet, and cut it crosswise into steaks or medallions 1 to 2 inches in thickness.
Season the fillets lightly with salt and pepper, steak spices or other seasonings as desired. Preheat your grill to medium heat, 300 to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
Grill the medallions at moderate heat for 10 to 12 minutes or until medium-rare, turning once.
Remove the medallions to a serving tray and let them rest for five minutes before serving.
- Buffalo fillet is slightly larger than beef fillet. If you ordinarily serve two medallions per portion, try to match pieces from the thinner ends with pieces from the thick middle section. This will provide a reasonably consistent portion size.
- Buffalo is very much like grass-fed beef in its cooking characteristics. If you can't find a bison recipe that appeals to you, try searching recipes for grass-fed beef.
- Bison tenderloin is best when cooked only to rare or medium-rare. If you prefer your meats well-done, it's better to start with a chuck or shank cut and slow-cook it.
Fred Decker is a trained chef and prolific freelance writer. In previous careers, he sold insurance and mutual funds, and was a longtime retailer. He was educated at Memorial University of Newfoundland and the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology. His articles have appeared on numerous home and garden sites including GoneOutdoors, TheNest and eHow.