With summer time beginning to peak its head out, there are more than likely two certainties; one, you will most likely be outside using your grill more and two, you probably have a stronger desire to stay in better shape. Please allow me to share an idea to kill two likelihoods, with one meat.. Buffalo!!
I was first introduced to buffalo meat (bison) about a year and a half ago by a well-known nutritionist, Sari Mellman (bison, by the way, is used synonymously with buffalo and is basically thought of as an "American buffalo", the only buffalo I have experienced). I don't believe I had even tried bison prior to that introduction. Now, it has become my meat of choice whenever I am cooking and I have ordered it every time at a restaurant whenever I have happily found it on a menu.
First off, let me assure you that bison is wonderful tasting meat in case you had the same preconception I had that it may be too gamey. It is not! If you didn't know what you were eating, there are very good odds that you're take away may have been that you just had the most flavorful steak or burger you've ever had. Bison is most commonly described as having a similar taste to good beef, though with a slightly sweeter and richer flavor. In fact, according to kcbuffalo.com, "Most people interviewed feel bison is the most flavorful and tender meat they have ever eaten!"
If that doesn't motivate you to try or incorporate buffalo into your diet, try this on for size. Buffalo has less calories, fat and cholesterol than found in beef, turkey, chicken and fish! Yes, you read that correctly! Buffalo is known to be some of, if not, the healthiest meat. The USDA requires buffalo to only feed on wild grass, unlike regular beef they do not use antibiotics, steroids or hormones per the FDA and are 100% ranch raised, never on a factory farm like its beef counterpart. The result - buffalo contains 30% more protein and 69% more iron than beef, has roughly 1/2 of the calories and 70 to 90% less fat! If you are anything like myself and have to monitor your cholesterol intake closely, you will be elated to know it has on average 50% less cholesterol than beef and get this, buffalo even has less cholesterol than chicken without the skin!
As far as preparing the bison, cook it the same way you would cook your beef, just with a closer eye. At least the first time around anyway until you get used to it, it is recommended to be cooked at a lower temperature. Due to its lower fat content, you will find it will cook faster than beef (its deep red color is a result of its lesser fat content). The fat works as an insulator and slows down the cooking time, the less the fat, the faster the meat will cook. Other than that, do your normal thing, grill it, broil it, roast it, pan-fry it.. Because of its similar muscle groups, buffalo has the same cuts as beef. You will find rib eye steaks, prime rib, sirloin, t-bone, porterhouse, NY strip, filet, brisket, flank, roasts, filets, burgers, franks and the rest of the usual beef cuts.
Ted Turner has a chain of restaurants that features a wide selection of bison, there is nice review on here, Ted's Montana Grill by @drifter51, I am hopeful it makes it to the west coast.. As far as finding a buffalo steak at a restaurant in the greater Los Angeles area, it is slim pickings, see @jrjohnson's comment below to this review. JR through an incredibly diligent search only found it served at Josie (where we had incredible filets for my ideal birthday dinner course), and the famous game-style restaurant, Saddle Peak Lodge. Josie, appears to only offer the filet as a special, but looks to now have on their regular menu, Buffalo Burger and Truffle Fries (ground buffalo sirloin stuffed with Gruyère, caramelized onions and mushrooms). Finding the standard buffalo burger around town is a bit more plentiful.
As far as getting it in the store, you have a lot more options, you will find it at most specialty meat markets. They carry a decent selection at Whole Foods, which is where I get it. To give you an idea, the buffalo NY strip there is $19.99 a pound compared to $17.99 for the beef NY strip. For a roughly 10% premium in price, you decide whether that is not one of the better bang for the buck scenarios out there.. Hope you enjoy it!
Bison are now raised for meat and hides. Over 250,000 of the 350,000 remaining bison are being raised for human consumption. Bison meat is lower in fat and cholesterol than beef, a fact which has led to the development of beefalo, a fertile cross-breed of bison and domestic cattle. In 2005, about 35,000 bison were processed for meat in the U.S., with the National Bison Association and USDA providing a "Certified American Buffalo" program with birth-to-consumer tracking of bison via RFID ear tags. There is even a market for kosher bison meat; these bison are slaughtered at one of the few kosher mammal slaughterhouses in the U.S., and the meat is then distributed nationwide.
Bison meat is another name for buffalo meat. While bison is technically correct, the two names are used interchangeably to denote a large, four-legged, horned animal, usually brown in color, and similar to an ox or a cow. Bison meat is very lean and has become popular in supermarkets. It contains far less calories and cholesterol than either beef or chicken.