Wild Idea Buffalo Recipe of the Week – Course II: Mussels in Tomato Broth with Buffalo…

December 4, 2013 at 12:40 PM | Posted in Wild Idea Buffalo | Leave a comment
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Mussels and Buffalo Chorizo, seems like a winning pair to me! It’s this weeks Wild Idea Buffalo recipe of the Week -Course II: Mussels in Tomato Broth with Buffalo Chorizo. It’s all from Jill O’Brien of Wild Idea Buffalo.




Course II: Mussels in Tomato Broth with Buffalo ChorizoWild Idea Buffalo Mussels in Tomato Broth with Buffalo Chorizo
By: Jill O’Brien


Note: You might be thinking that this will be too heavy for a second course, but it is light dish (as long as you don’t dip too much bread into the delicious broth). The flavors complement each other nicely and the chorizo adds a nice spice! The sauce can be made in advance, leaving the steaming of mussels for the last minute.


(serves 2)



1 teaspoon olive oil +
4oz. Wild Idea Buffalo Chorizo
½ cup yellow onion, diced
1 clove garlic, chopped
½ teaspoon each salt & pepper
1 teaspoon crushed fennel seeds
1 teaspoon chili flake *optional
1 15oz. can, diced tomatoes
1 cup white wine
12 to 16 mussels, washed and de-bearded



1 – In a heavy sauté pan over medium high heat, heat 1-teaspoon olive oil. Crumble sausage into pan and cook until lightly browned, about 4 minutes. Remove sausage from pan, place in bowl and cover with saran. Set aside.
2 – Return pan to heat and add additional oil if needed. Add onion and garlic, sautéing until tender, about 5 minutes.
3 – Add seasonings, tomatoes and wine. Stir to incorporate and bring to a boil. *At this point you could remove from heat, cover and reheat when ready to serve.
4 – Add prepared mussels, cover and allow mussels to steam for 4 minutes. Most all of the shells should have popped open. Discard un-open shells.
5 – Add chorizo back to pan and stir to incorporate and heat.
6 – Serve direct from pan or spoon into serving bowls.
Garnish with green leek ringlets and lemon wedge. Serve with warm artisan bread.

Wine Pairing: You could stay with a dry Prosseco for this course or switch to a Dry Riesling or light red.







Wild Idea Buffalo – 1 lb. Chorizo SausageWild Idea Buffalo Chorizo Sausage
Our Mexican style Chorizo makes any dish more delicious! You will love our take on it, with a flavor profile that is every bit chorizo; seasoned with just the right spices, while our grassy bison meat adds a lighter nuance and powerful health benefits. One pound package of ground chorizo, not in links. 1 lb. Package

Ingredients: Buffalo, Organic Spices:[Black Pepper, Chili Pepper, Coriander, Cumin, Oregano, Paprika, Pimento, Red Pepper] Red Wine Vinegar, Salt



Wild Idea Buffalo Recipe of the Week – Southwest Burger

October 16, 2013 at 9:13 AM | Posted in Wild Idea Buffalo | 1 Comment
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Another great Buffalo Burger idea from Jill O’Brien of Wild Idea Buffalo. It’s the Southwest Burger with a Jalapeno infused Hollandaise!


Wild Idea Buffalo Southwest Burger
Southwest Burger *The winner and favorite in our buffalo burger cook off!

(makes 3 to 4 burgers or 8 to 10 sliders)

Ingredients: Southwest Buffalo Burger

1 1 lb. Wild Idea Ground Buffalo
1 Tb. olive oil +
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 cup pepper jack cheese, small cubes
½ cup (2) green chili’s, roasted, peeled coarse chopped
Pico de Gallo
Jalapeno Hollandaise
Buns of choice



1.) Mix meat, olive oil, spices, cheese and chili’s together in bowl with hands and portion into desired patty size.
2.) Refrigerate for ½ hour to assist with binding.
3.) Preheat clean grill to 500*+.
4.) Brush burgers with a little extra olive oil and place burgers on hot grill, grilling 2 minutes each side. Keep grill lid closed.
5.) Brush with olive oil and grill ½ minute each side to give burger a bit of a crust.

Serve on buns and top with Pico de Gallo and Jalapeno Hollandaise! Accompany with *Tequila, Lime Buffalo Chips. *Recipe included with purchase.


Pico de Gallo (makes 2 cups)


1¼ cup finely diced cherry tomatoes
½ cup finely diced onion, white, red or green
¼ cup finely chopped cilantro
1 Tb. sugar
¼ tsp. cardamom
½ tsp. each: coriander, cumin, salt & pepper

Juice of 1 – Lime

*optional: pinch of cayenne

Toss all ingredients together. Season to taste.


Jalapeno infused Hollandaise


2 organic eggs, yolks only
½ teaspoon coarse mustard
½ teaspoon garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons lemon juice
½ teaspoon black pepper
1 Jalapeno, roasted, peeled and seeded
1 stick salted organic butter, melted

1.) Place all ingredients in blender and puree.
2.) With blender going, slowly add melted butter. Blend until mixture becomes thick.

Place leftover hollandaise in container and store in refrigerator for up to 5 days. Use as a spread on sandwiches or as a dip for crudités.





Wild Idea Buffalo Ground Round 99 free

1 lb. Ground Round, 99% Lean
We use the Top Round and the Sirloin Tip cuts and remove all visible fat, for this super lean meat. It is rich and dark in taste and color. Substitute for any of your favorite ground dishes. Also, delicious for the popular Lebanese dish, kibbeh (pictured) – recipe with purchase. 1 lb. Package


Wild Idea Buffalo Recipe of the Week – Buffalo Chili Dogs

October 2, 2013 at 9:01 AM | Posted in bison, Hot Dogs, Wild Idea Buffalo | Leave a comment
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It’s Wednesday and time for the Wild Idea Buffalo Recipe of the Week, which is Buffalo Chili Dogs!


Buffalo Chili DogsWild Idea Buffalo Chili Dogs
By: Jill O’Brien

1 – pkg. Wild IdeaBuffaloHot Dogs
2 – cups Wild Idea Buffalo Chili, heated (recipe below)
1 ½ cups cheddar cheese, shredded
6 hot dog buns (whole wheat or whole grain, best)
1 Tb. Olive oil
*optional toppings: pickled jalapeno’s, raw onion or your favorite extra


* Preheat inside gas grill to 550*. (Half of grill set on high and other half set on low).
* Place hot dogs over hot side of grill and grill for 2 minutes each side, closing grill during cooking time.
* While hot dogs are grilling brush inside of buns with olive oil and place inside down over low heat side of the grill, and brown. About two minutes.
* Remove browned buns and place hot dogs on buns.
* Top each hot dog with 1/3 cup of heated chili and sprinkle each with ¼ cup of shredded cheddar cheese. (Cheese will melt on its own, or use small torch if you would like to lightly brown cheese). Serve with optional toppings and a lot of napkins!






1 lb. Uncured Smoked Buffalo Hot Dogs *New Recipe!Wild Idea Buffalo Hot Dogs
Rediscover hot dogs! Wild Idea’s 100% Nitrite Free are made from our 100% premium lean grass-fed buffalo — no filler, no junk, all flavor! You won’t find these dogs in your mega supermarket cooler. Ours are handmade dogs, prepared and smoked in our own plant. Meaty, seasoned, and 100% delicious, we bet they’ll change the way you think about hot dogs. Kids will love them and adults will too! Time to come back to hot dogs. 6 – 7 hot dogs Per Package / 1 lb. pkg.

Ingredients: Buffalo, Organic Spices:[Black Pepper, Coriander, Garlic Powder, Ground Mustard, Onion Powder, Organic Milk powder (organic skim milk), Paprika, Pure Cane Sugar, Sea Salt] & Veg Stable {celery powder, sea salt, silicon dioxide (anti caking)}, water.
Encased in a natural sheep casing.


Wild Idea Buffalo Recipe of the Week – Buffalo Wellington

September 18, 2013 at 7:32 AM | Posted in Wild Idea Buffalo | 2 Comments
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It’s Wednesday and time again for the Wild Idea Buffalo Recipe of the Week – Buffalo Wellington. A while back I posted a Buffalo Wellington Stew, so here’s the Wellington on it’s own. Another good one from Jill O’Brien of Wild Idea Buffalo.


Buffalo WellingtonWild Idea Buffalo Wellington2
By: Jill O’Brien


(serves 6 to 8)

The traditional Wellington is typically made using the Tenderloin cut and Foie Grois Pate. I find this dish plenty rich without the Foie Gras and prepare a savory vegetable pate instead. You can prepare using whole Tenderloin, or my favorite is using individual pre-cut steaks (Tenderloin or Top Sirloin steaks work well), creating the perfect portion. Another option for hors d’oeuvres, is using our Tenderloin Tips, for a delicious pop in your mouth Petite Wellingtons.




6 or 8 – 5oz. to 8oz. Tenderloin or Top Sirloin Steaks, rinsed and patted dry
1 Tb. olive oil
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. black pepper
2 to 4 sheets Puff Pastry, thawed (4 serving per sheet for 5oz steaks, 2 servings per sheet for 8oz. You may have some scraps left over.)
Ingredients for Pate: (Makes enough for 8 Steaks, or 1 whole Tenderloin. Left overs can be tossed with rice or used in a soup at a later time.)

4 Tb. butter
1 cup onion, diced
4 medium cloves garlic, chopped
½ cup carrot, shopped and flash processed
½ cup celery, chopped and flash processed
2 cups mushrooms, diced
2 cups mushrooms, sliced
1 tsp. fresh rosemary, minced
2 tsp. dry thyme
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. black pepper
1½ cup’s dry sherry
½ cup red wine



* Rub individual steaks with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
* Heat heavy sauté pan over medium high heat and place prepped steaks in hot pan.
* Brown for 1 minute each side for 5 oz. cut or 2 minutes each side for 8oz. cut.
* Remove from pan, and set aside, loosely covered with saran.
* Return pan to heat and add butter, onion, garlic, carrots, celery and seasonings. Sauté for 6 minutes.
* Add chopped mushrooms and continue to sauté for an additional 4 minutes.
* Fold in remaining sliced mushrooms and sauté for 2 minutes.
* Deglaze pan with sherry and bring to full heat. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer until liquids are almost gone, about 10 minutes.
* Add red wine and simmer until all liquids are gone, but pate is still moist.
* Remove pate from pan and allow it to come to room temperature. Reserve pan, do not wash.
* Cut puff pastry into squares, roll out lightly or stretch gently with hands.
* To assemble pat juices away with paper towel from the bottom of prepared steaks and place in the center of the pastry. Top steaks with desired amount of vegetable pate. Pull two opposite pastry corners up and over steak and pate, folding in sides. Pinch pastry together, right below pastry corner, leaving a leaf like tab. Repeat with the other two corners. Pinch all together at top, pulling on pastry corners to create a leaf like design. Place Wellingtons on lightly oiled baking sheet or non-stick baking sheet. Wellingtons can be loosely covered with saran wrap and placed in the refrigerator until ready to bake, for up to 2 hours.
*Pre-heat oven to 475*. Place Wellingtons in hot oven and bake until pastry is golden brown, 7 to 10 minutes.
* Serve with wild rice and Wine Sauce.


Ingredients for Marsala or Madiera Sauce:

2 Tb. butter
1 cup sliced mushrooms
2 cups Dry Marsala, Dry Madeira or lighter bodied red wine
2 cups buffalo or organic beef stock
1 Tb. arrowroot



* Return sauté pan to medium high heat and add the butter. While butter is melting, scrape up the brown bits from the bottom. Add mushrooms and sauté for a few minutes. Add wine and stock, and bring to full heat. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer until liquids have reduced to half. Turn heat back to medium high. Mix arrowroot with ¼ cup cold water and whisk into hot sauce. Reduce heat to low. Season to taste. Serve immediately or remove from heat and reheat for later use.


http://wildideabuffalo.com/2012/buffalo-wellington/Wild Idea

Wild Idea Buffalo Recipe of the Week – Buffalo Cacciatore with Polenta

September 11, 2013 at 9:19 AM | Posted in bison, Wild Idea Buffalo | Leave a comment
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Buffalo gone Italian! Wild Idea’s Jill O’Brien has another delicious sounding recipe, Wild Idea Buffalo Recipe of the Week – Buffalo Cacciatore with Polenta. I’m adding this one to my list of “Must Make Dishes“.



Buffalo Cacciatore with PolentaWild Idea Buffalo Buffalo Cacciatore with Polenta
By: Jill O’Brien



This recipe was inspired by my friend Maria’s grandmother, Gelsomina. I have stayed true to Gelsomina’s seasonings, and have substituted only those ingredients that I felt she would have approved of (wine instead of water and fresh tomatoes for tomato paste), and of course buffalo in place of chicken.



* 1 – 3 lb. buffalo roast cut into steaks or 3 lb. Stew Meat
* 2 – Tbl. olive oil
* 1 – Tbl. Italian seasoning
* 1 – tsp. paprika
* ¼ – tsp. allspice
* ¼ – tsp. cinnamon
* 1 – tsp. salt
* 1 – tsp. black pepper
* 1 – onion, diced
* 3 – cloves garlic, chopped
* 2 – cups white wine
* 4 – ripe tomatoes, peeled and chopped, plus juice
* 2 – Tbl. ketchup (or tomato paste)
1 – Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees
2 – Rinse meat and blot dry.
3 – Mix all dry spices together and rub into meat.
4 – Over medium high heat, heat oil in heavy sauté pan and brown meat. You may need to do this in two batches.
5 – Place browned meat in heavy casserole dish.
6 – Add onion and garlic to sauté pan and sauté for 4 minutes.
7 – Deglaze pan with wine, and add tomatoes and ketchup or paste. Bring to a boil.
8 – Pour tomato sauce over meat and cover casserole dish. Place in hot oven and braise for 1.5 hours. Check for tenderness and continue braising if needed.
9 -Prepare polenta as directed.
10 –Spoon polenta on serving platter and top with Buffalo Cacciatore.






Wild idea Buffalo Stew Meat – 2 LbWild Idea Buffalo Stew Meat
Flavorful, healthy and incredibly easily. Pre-cut from our buffalo roasts, the ready to use stew meat is super convenient! Great for soups, stews, or stroganoff. 2 lb. Package (Also available in 1 lb. pack)


Wild Idea Buffalo Recipe of the Week – Buffalo Ox-bone Soup

August 28, 2013 at 9:01 AM | Posted in soup, Wild Idea Buffalo | 3 Comments
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Soups is on! It’s all about the Soup in this week’s Wild Idea Buffalo Recipe of the Week, Buffalo Ox-bone Soup. Another good one from Jill O’Brien of Wild Idea Buffalo.



Buffalo Ox-bone SoupWild Idea Buffalo Ox Bone Soup

By: Jill O’Brien

(serves 8)


This soup takes time, but it is time well spent. It is the kind of food you eat and say “I could eat this every day”. For preparing, you will want a larger pot as you simmer at a higher heat. This will help keep liquids in the pot. You will also want a heavy lid to keep the steam from escaping.





1 – 3.5 lb. pkg. Buffalo Shank Steaks
1 – 2 lb. pkg. Buffalo Soup Bones
1 onion, quartered
2 large Daikon radishes, peeled and quartered
2 cloves garlic, halved + 2 cloves garlic, chopped
Salt (to taste)
3 Tbl. Bragg Liquid Aminos (Natural Soy) or Soy Sauce
3 Tbl. Sesame Oil
2 Tbl. green onion, chopped + 1 bunch of green onions, sliced
½ tsp. black pepper
2 tsp. red pepper flake
8 cups cooked rice
1 bunch radishes, sliced
fresh grated ginger or pickled ginger



1 -Wash bones and shank meat under cold water.
2 – Soak bones and shank meat in cold water for 2 hours.
3 – Rinse bones again under cold water.
4 – Bring 4 quarts of water to a boil, add washed bones and shank meat, bring to full boil. Boil for 20 minutes.
5 – Strain bones and meat and rinse under cold water. Rinse pot thoroughly to remove any fat particles.
6 – Return bones to pot and add 4 more quarts water. Bring to a boil, and boil for 30 minutes. Add, onion and radish. Cover, reduce heat to medium and simmer for 3 hours.
7 – Check meat for tenderness using two forks, If meat pulls apart, strain meat and bones, reserving liquids. Remove meat from bones and radish. If meat is not tender continue cooking until it is. Cover reserved liquids and place in refrigerator.
8 – Return bones with onion to pot and add 3 quarts of water. Over high heat, bring to a full rolling boil. Reduce heat to medium, cover and simmer for 3 hours.
9 – While bones are simmering, mix Braggs Liquid Aminos, sesame oil, chopped green onion, black pepper and chili flake together. Pull apart cooked meat and toss with soy and sesame mixture, cover and refrigerate.
10 – Drain the bones, reserving the milky broth. Cover and place in refrigerator.
11 – Remove the first reserved liquids from refrigerator and skim fat off the top. Return Bones and first reserved liquids back to pot. Add 2 cloves garlic and 3 quarts of water, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium, cover and simmer for an additional 3½ hours.
12 – Strain bones, reserving liquids. Cover liquids and refrigerate overnight. (Optional: You may want to save bones for serving.)
13 – Remove both containers of liquid from refrigerator and remove any fat from the top. Marry gelatinous liquid into one pot and bring to full heat.
14 – Season with salt to taste, starting with a little and adding until milky broth has full flavor.
15 – Place prepared meat in small stock pot and add a half cup of broth. Reheat over medium heat until meat is hot.
16 -To serve, place a scoop of hot rice in center of the bowl, add desired meat portion and garnish with sliced radish and green onion. Accompany with chili flake, chopped garlic, grated ginger and salt for people to add as they like.
Soooooooo delicious!





3.5 lbs. Buffalo ShanksWild Idea Buffalo Buffalo Shanks
Bison bone-in shanks are great for the traditional Italian dish “Osso Bucco”. The marrow is also coveted as a delicacy and wonderful smeared on toast points. 4 bone in shanks / 3.5 lbs.








Soup BonesWild Idea Buffalo Soup Bones
We cut our soup bones from the shank. Excellent for making your own stock, or try roasting and serve the marrow with toast. Approx. 2 lbs.


Wild Idea Buffalo Recipe of the Week – Gangnam Style Buffalo Flank Steak

August 21, 2013 at 8:15 AM | Posted in Wild Idea Buffalo | Leave a comment
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Passing along 2 Wild Idea Buffalo Recipes this week; Gangnam Style Buffalo Flank Steak/Gangnam Style Lettuce Wraps and Gangnam Style Buffalo Stew. The Stew is prepared the same way as the Gangnam Style Lettuce Wraps but you’ll be adding some additional items to it. It all comes from the http://wildideabuffalo.com/ web site. You can purchase the Buffalo Flank Steak on-line also. You can also check out all Jill O’Brien’s Wild Idea Buffalo Delicious Recipes! In my opinion home of the best tasting Buffalo you can find!



Gangnam Style Buffalo Flank SteakWild Idea Buffalo Gangnam Style Lettuce Wraps
By: Jill O’Brien

This recipe was inspired by my new addiction to the “Gangnam Style” dance.

The Korean word gangnam, stands for the south side of Seoul, were there are many fancy restaurants and shops. My recipe is a rendition of Bulgogi (Korean B.B.Q.), which can be served a variety of ways. Here are two of my favorite renditions.

Note: Traditionally the Koreans use high-end cuts, but I find that this is not necessary. The flank steak becomes very tender in the marinade. You are going to love this recipe. Get your gangnam on!


2 lbs. Buffalo Flank Steak
1/2 cup Braggs Amino Liquids
2 Tb. Sesame Oil
6 cloves garlic
1 Asian pear, or pear, peeled & cored
4 green onions, chopped
1 tsp. black pepper
2 Tb. sugar
1 Tb. red pepper flake
Gangnam Style Lettuce Wraps (serves 8)


* Rinse flank steaks, pat dry and remove any exterior fat. Place flank steaks on cutting board, using sharp knife cut flank steak on the bias into ¼ “ slices. To cut steaks on the bias, tilt your knife to a 45* angle (the top of your knife blade should be at the 10:00 position). Place sliced flank steaks into a non-reactive bowl.
* Place remaining ingredients in blender and puree.
* Pour marinade over meat and massage into meat. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
* Heat a wok to high heat or place a large sauté pan over high heat. Brush pan with a little sesame oil, once hot add marinated meat to pan. Stir meat in a tossing manner while cooking, for 3 to 4 minutes.
To Serve:

Place meat on platter with leaf lettuce or iceberg lettuce, accompany with warm rice or rice noodles and julienned vegetables of your choice, along with sesame seeds, fresh garlic, grated ginger and red pepper flake.


Gangnam Style Buffalo StewWild Idea Buffalo Gangnam Style Buffalo Stew

Additional ingredients:

1 quart buffalo broth, (or vegetable or beef broth)
4 cups variety vegetables, chopped (I used, peppers, squash, mushrooms and green onion.)
4 cups cooked rice

* Prepare as above through #4. Pile meat in center of the wok or pan.
* Add vegetables to pan, circling around meat.
* Add broth and bring to a boil. Push meat down into broth, cover and simmer for 5 minutes.
To Serve: Place ½ cup of rice into bowls and ladle with hot stew. Pass with sesame seeds, grated garlic, fresh ginger and red chili flake.


*Pictures provided by Wild Idea Buffalo*

Wild Idea Recipe of the Week – Bison Chuck Roast for Pulled Buffalo B.B.Q.

August 7, 2013 at 9:21 AM | Posted in Wild Idea Buffalo | 1 Comment
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Another good one from Jill O’Brien of Wild Idea Buffalo! You can purchase the Bison Chuck Roast that makes this delicious dish on line at http://wildideabuffalo.com/



Bison Chuck Roast for Pulled Buffalo B.B.Q.Wild Idea Buffalo Pulled Buffalo B.B.Q.
By: Jill O’Brien


1 3 pound Bison Chuck Roast, twine removed, rinsed & patted dry
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons black pepper
2 cup organic Apple Cider, warmed
1.) Pre-heat oven to 500*.
2.) Mix 1 tablespoon olive oil with salt and pepper, in dutch oven or heavy pan. Place roast in pan and roll around in seasoning, rubbing into meat.
3.) Place roast in hot oven uncovered and roast for 15 minutes.
4.) Add warmed Apple Cider, cover pot tightly and lower temperature to 350*.
5.) Braise Buffalo Roast for 2 ½ hours turning once during braising time.
6.) Roast is finished cooking when meat is tender. You should be able to pull the meat apart using 2 forks, (continue braising for another ½ hour if this is not achieved).
7.) Remove form heat and let roast rest at room temperature, covered for 1 hour, or until you are able to handle.
8.) Remove roast from pot and place on cutting board. Reserve pan juices. Using two forks or hands pull meat apart into manageable pieces and then pull apart into smaller pieces or shred.
9.) Return meat to 1 cup of pan juices.
10.) Add 1 cup B.B.Q. sauce and stir to incorporate. Bring to full heat, adding in more pan juices or B.B.Q. sauce as desired. Reduce heat to simmer.

Serve as entrée or on buns for sandwiches. Accompany with Firecracker Coleslaw.



Jill’s B.B. Q. Sauce



1 Tb. Olive Oil
1 cup onion, finely diced
2 T. Garlic, chopped
1 T. Black Pepper
1 tsp. Cayenne
1 tsp. Chili Powder
1 tsp. Cumin
1 tsp. Coriander
1 tsp. Cinnamon
½ cup Bourbon
2.4 lbs. Ketchup
1 T. Dijon Mustard
1 T. Worcestershire
Dash of Liquid Smoke
½ cup organic Apple cider or water
1.) In heavy saucepan, over medium high heat, heat oil.
2.) Add onion and seasonings and sauté for 7 minutes.
3.) Deglaze with: 1/2 cup Bourbon or Brandy
4.) Add remaining ingredients, and stir until well to incorporate.
5.) Add 1/2 cup juice or water to thin as needed. Bring to a boil.

Pour sauce in sealed container and refrigerate.



Buffalo gaining ground as leaner, healthier red meat

July 25, 2013 at 9:14 AM | Posted in bison, Wild Idea Buffalo | Leave a comment
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Interesting article I came across yesterday about my favorite meat, Buffalo. I left the link at the end of the post.




Buffalo gaining ground as leaner, healthier red meat



American bison were nearly driven to extinction in the late 1880s, but their remarkable comeback has allowed the likes of buffalo burgers, short ribs and tenderloin steaks to find homes on 21st century restaurant menus and kitchen tables.

No, it’s not a stampede, but the bison industry has something to hang its hat on: U.S. beef consumption has declined 25 percent since its 1980s peak to about 57 pounds per person annually. Meanwhile, demand for buffalo, aka bison, has shot up, registering six straight years of double-digit growth, according to the National Bison Association.
Sales have outstripped supply and sent prices soaring. The association reports the average price paid for a young bull carcass at the start of the year was 89 percent higher than just five years ago. At the retail level, that translates to ground bison in the neighborhood of $12 a pound.

Meanwhile, the number of bison has shown a dramatic rebound. From fewer than 1,000 animals around 1900, the U.S. herd has grown to an estimated 220,000 on both private and public lands. Bison producers are in all 50 states and include 4,400 private ranches and farms.

North of the border, the Canadian herd also is pegged at 220,000, according to the association.
Lean burgers
Buffalo burgers have been on the menu of Triangle Char & Bar since its opening five years ago, says Michael Lotz, director of operations.
“We get a lot of athletes that come in here because it’s so lean,” says Lotz, citing its 90-10 ratio of lean to fat. (That’s a moot point, since the “Home on the Range” burger also comes with cheddar cheese, bacon, a fried onion ring and French fries.) The West Ashley restaurant goes through between 35 and 50 pounds a week.

Still, Lotz is seeing its overall popularity on the rise. “The only reason we know this is because (buffalo) is a loss leader for us.” The bison costs the restaurant $2 more a pound than its beef — both are grass-fed.

If buffalo comes to be regarded as “the other red meat,” the reputation is not undeserved. A 3.5-ounce serving of cooked bison weighs in with 2.42 grams of fat versus 8 grams for the same amount of select-grade beef, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture data on the association’s website.

Another difference lies in the fact that it’s illegal to use growth hormones in bison. Bison usually aren’t treated with antibiotics, either.

Like beef, bison also is rich in protein, iron, zinc and vitamin B12. Furthermore, some tout bison as being a good source of omega-3 fatty acids. Both bison and beef that are exclusively grass-fed have substantially higher levels of these heart-healthy fats than conventional, grain-fed beef.

Many people find the taste of bison on par with beef or better, describing a richer but “cleaner” flavor with a hint of sweetness.

“People like it, it’s well-received when we have it,” says Marc Collins, executive chef of Circa 1886 in Charleston. Earlier this year Collins featured bison short ribs on his menu.

“Unless you were looking for it and really had a discerning palate, you might have a hard time finding a difference” between the flavor of the two meats, he says.

The leanness of bison takes getting used to, Collins says. “If you like your steaks on the medium well to well side … if it’s not going to be grain-fed, you’re not going to have that extra fat to move it along.” He, like others, recommends less cooking to keep it from drying out.
Sustainable mission
Jill O’Brien is one of the faces in the burgeoning bison industry. She, her husband, Dan, and another partner are owners of Wild Idea Buffalo Company, which sells 100 percent grass-fed buffalo direct to consumers on its website, wildideabuffalo.com, as well as wholesale to restaurants and stores.
O’Brien strode across the floor of the Charleston Area Convention Center last week wearing floral-stitched, pointy-toed cowboy boots. She was in town for the American Association of Meat Processors Association conference.

O’Brien brought buffalo hot dogs to enter in the association’s annual American Cured Meat Championships. “Specialty meats,” including buffalo pastrami and buffalo summer sausage, was one of 20-some categories in the contest.

“I’m a newbie,” O’Brien said inside the exhibit hall where hundreds of cured meats of all shapes and sizes were hidden from view behind a black curtain. The smell was intense, as if the room were sealed inside a Slim Jim wrapper, and the array of bacons, hams, sausages and more was stunning.

The 50-year-old was a long way from home: Wild Idea’s ranches are in South Dakota near Badlands National Park.

The ranches support a herd of 700 bison that roam and graze over 95,000 acres, about twice the size of Mount Pleasant, and include both private and leased lands. The company was started in 1997 by Dan O’Brien as a way to keep his ranch going, converting from a cattle operation, and began with just 13 bison calves.

But the owners view their mission as something much larger than just a meat company. Wild Idea took on a partner a couple of years ago, not so much to grow the meat business “but to grow the idea of sustainability, conservation and grassland preservation,” Jill O’Brien says.

“In order to have a larger environmental impact, you need big landscapes,” and buffalo do want to roam, she says.

For she and her husband, buffalo meat is not what they produce; she calls it “a byproduct” of their desire to boost bio-diversity and help the environment.

“Our mission is to leave our little corner of the world a little better than we found it,” she says. “The bison are a tool in that change. It’s allowing enough space and room for all things not just to live, but to thrive.”

O’Brien says both of them have other jobs “to support our bad habit … or good habit, I should say.” A former restaurateur, she does freelance catering, although that is becoming less as Wild Idea’s business grows. Dan O’Brien is the author of nine books, both novels and nonfiction, and teaches writing. He has twice received an artist’s grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.

“We believe in eating less meat, but of a higher nutritional quality,” she says.
Local demand rises
At Whole Foods Market in Mount Pleasant, meat team leader Roger Ducker “absolutely” has noticed growing demand for buffalo in the nine years since the store opened in 2004.
“The tonnage has increased every year,” he says. “We typically see spikes around New Year‘s and that early part of the year because so many folks make … resolutions to eat healthier. They go for the bison because it’s lean.”

They have different cuts at different times, but regularly offer popular grilling items such as rib-eye and New York strip steaks, and ground bison for burgers. As sales have risen, he says it’s allowed the store to bring in a wider variety of cuts from flank steak to filet mignon in the past few years.

“It’s a good alternative for somebody who needs the protein and needs the red meat in their diet. It’s a good source for that, it’s super-low in cholesterol, really high in iron, it drives that health-conscious customer who wants red meat in their diet.”

Buffalo won’t be on everyone’s shopping list, no matter how much they aspire to eat better. The least expensive buffalo at Whole Foods, including ground and stew meat, starts at $12 a pound and tops out at $33 a pound for filets.

Wild Idea’s buffalo meat also is “quite a bit more expensive” than conventional beef, O’Brien acknowledges. For a more equal comparison, she says the price of their all grass-fed bison should be judged against all grass-fed beef.

“We just don’t bring in anybody,” Ducker says of Whole Foods’ suppliers. “Sometimes these smaller, sustainable operations have trouble keeping up with demand and it does drive the price up.”

Reach Teresa Taylor at 937-4886.




Wild Idea Buffalo Recipe of the Week – Jill’s Favorite Buffalo Burgers

July 4, 2013 at 9:40 AM | Posted in grilling, Wild Idea Buffalo | Leave a comment
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Happy 4th of July everyone! And what better way to celebrate than firing that grill up and grilling some of the tastiest burgers around, a WIld Idea Buffalo Burger! This week’s Wild Idea Buffalo Recipe of the Week – Jill’s Favorite Buffalo Burgers. I left the link to the recipe and also a link to Wild Idea Buffalo where you can purchase Ground Buffalo or the pre-made patties. Enjoy everyone!




Jill’s Favorite Buffalo BurgersWild Idea Buffalo Jill’s Favorite Buffalo Burgers
By: Jill O’Brien

Makes 3 to 4 Buffalo Burgers
A little extra seasoning makes these buffalo burgers oh so good.


1 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon mustard
1 teaspoon ketchup
1/4 teaspoon thyme
1 teaspoon salt & pepper
1 lb. Ground Buffalo

1) – Mix all ingredients, but Buffalo together
2) – Add Buffalo& mix thoroughly with hands. Pat into 3 or 4, 1/2″ patties.
3) – Place in refrigerator to firm up burgers
4) – Grill over high heat (500* gas grill) for 3 minutes each side, closing grill lid during cooking time for Medium Rare.
5) – Finish with a sprinkle of high quality finishing salt






Wild Idea BuffaloWild Idea 1 lb Ground Bison
1 lb. Ground Buffalo
We grind our finest roasts and steaks to bring you the most delicious burgers anywhere. 90% – 92% Lean. 1 lb. Package.

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