The title of this post is an obscure pun on the dish we cooked last night and the name of a 1960s North American band formed by Neil Young – one of my top three musical heroes – and the talented egotist Stephen Stills. So, my apologies for being simultaneously corny and opaque when one such sin should suffice.
A month or so before Christmas, I received a tweet that told me buffalo meat was available at Cester’s, our preferred supplier of duck, quail, spatchcock and goat. We’d never cooked a meal of buffalo, so we decided to give it a go and bought about 500g of buffalo fillet, cryovac-protected and frozen. Late last week, with our menu of festive food tapering towards normal summer programming, we decided to go to work on the buffalo.
But what to cook?
A search of cyberspace was not very illuminating, mostly throwing up recipes for buffalo burgers and the like. To be fair, one of the virtues of buffalo meat is its low fat content, so you do run the risk of cooking up a plate of something dry and unappetising. So, a burger appeals as a safe option, but Maggie and I don’t do safe in the kitchen! Well, at least, not when planning a meal.
In light of our recent meal of beef wellington, it was tempting to give the buffalo fillet much the same treatment, using leftover sheets of the puff pastry. But close-on-the-heels-of-success repetition is both safe and palate-dulling. Then I remembered another dish we make from time to time – well, every couple of years, for reasons that will soon become as clear as melted butter – using a piece of beef fillet. Maggie calls it her ‘green’ steak; in the printed collection of our favourite recipes, I have given it the more wannabe-cheffy moniker ‘roast eye fillet au verd’.
1/2 kg fillet of buffalo (or beef)
2-3 spring (green) onions, sliced
2 tbsp dry white wine
60g butter, softened
3 tsp parsley, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tsp Dijon mustard
salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 cup grated gruyere cheese
- Heat a non-stick pan until very hot. Add the piece of meat and turn on all sides until the outside of the flesh is brown. Remove and allow the meat to cool (this prevents loss of juices during step 5).
- Place the spring onion and white wine in a small saucepan and cook over medium heat until the wine has almost evaporated and the onion is soft.
- In a bowl, use a fork to cream the butter with the parsley, garlic, mustard, salt and pepper. Add the breadcrumbs and cheese and stir to combine. Mix in the spring onion. (This butter mix can also be used when cooking escargots or lobster tails.)
- Preheat oven to 170-175C (no hotter or the butter will burn).
- Leaving the base of the fillet intact, cut into the flesh at >1cm intervals. Spread some of the butter mix between each slice, as well as along the top and sides of the fillet. Tie some string around the sides of the fillet lengthways to hold it together.
- Place fillet on baking paper in an oven-proof tray into which the fillet fits comfortably. Cook in the oven for 20 to 35 minutes, according to the thickness and your own taste. Remove, cover with foil and rest for 5 to 10 minutes.
- To serve, remove the string and cut the slices through.
- The pan juices and resting juices, which include much of the butter, can be saved and used when mashing some potatoes.
To complete the dish, we added some whole mushrooms, seasoned, tossed in olive oil and roasted alongside the buffalo; Dutch carrots, peeled and cooked by reduction method in water, a little sugar and a little butter; fresh green beans; and some of our homegrown kipflers, boiled until just cooked. There was enough meat for three adults, four at a pinch.
What was is it like? As you would expect, similar to beef; soft but not melt-in-the-mouth, possibly a lighter flavour; but I’d need to taste them side by side to be sure. No obvious wow factor, but I enjoyed the plate of food very much, believe we made a good decision about ingredients and method and would do it again without making any changes.