Do you know the difference between bison, buffalo and beefalo? According to the USDA, bison raised in this country belong to the bovine family and are not true buffalo (such as Asian water buffalo and African Cape buffalo). These days, American bison is an up-and-coming presence in the red-meat case, with increasingly attractive selling points: It is grass-fed and grain-finished; it is leaner than regular beef and some chicken and pork; it is a flavorful meat that, by law, cannot contain hormones.
Beefalo is, as the name suggests, a crossbreed of bison and domestic cattle that yields leaner, higher-protein red meat than regular beef.
The bison steak medallions we used for this recipe are available at SuperFresh and Wegmans; Whole Foods Markets carry other cuts of buffalo, including flank steak and rib-eye.
The cocoa sauce complements the meat's rich, sweet flavor. Serve with a saute of mixed vegetables or wild rice and a glass of a chocolate-friendly zinfandel or syrah.
- 2 medium shallots
- 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 4 6-ounce bison (buffalo) steak medallions, such as Great Range brand
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 to 3/4 cup zinfandel or syrah
- 1/4 cup low-sodium beef broth
- 1 teaspoon Dijon-style mustard
- 2 tablespoons cocoa nibs
- Pinch sugar (optional)
- Several sprigs flat-leaf parsley
Mince the shallots and set aside.
Sprinkle the cocoa powder on a plate; use it to lightly coat the both sides of each steak. Lightly season both sides with salt and pepper to taste.
Spray a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking oil spray and place it on the middle oven rack; preheat to 325 degrees.
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the steaks and cook for 2 minutes, then turn them over and cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Both sides should have a slightly seared, chocolate-brown crust. Use tongs to transfer the meat to the baking dish in the oven.
With the skillet still over medium heat, add the shallots and cook for about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally, until they have softened. Add the wine and beef broth; increase the heat to medium-high and cook for 5 minutes, until the liquid has reduced by at least a third. Add the mustard and stir to combine.
Turn off the oven and transfer the meat to the counter to rest (an internal temperature of medium-rare should register--5 degrees on an instant-read thermometer).
Add the cocoa nibs to the skillet and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning; add the sugar, if using. Meanwhile, finely chop the parsley leaves. Remove the skillet from the heat and add the chopped parsley, stirring to combine.
Divide the medallions among individual plates and spoon the cocoa nib sauce over the top. Serve immediately.
From assistant Food editor Bonnie S. Benwick.
Tested by Bonnie S. Benwick.
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