If you read my husband's blog, you'll know that at the weekend we went to a Potato Day in Whitchurch, after which we went on to Laverstoke Park Farm to visit the shop (sadly as it was a bitterly cold, snowy day, the buffalo were nowhere to be seen). We'd not tried buffalo before, and although the steaks looked lovely - dark, strong and mature - the butcher warned us that they needed to be served quite rare to avoid any toughness, and as Mark doesn't like rare meat we decided to go for something which would respond to long, slow cooking - mince. The price was comparable to the best mince from my local butcher, so it wasn't a lot to pay for something a bit out of the ordinary.
I decided to make a cottage pie using the mince, so as not to mask the flavour or texture with too many spices or other ingredients, so here is my recipe. Apologies if the title led you to believe you were going to see a huge Desperate Dan style pastry pie with a pair of horns sticking out of the top!
Buffalo Pie (serves 3) takes approx. 3 hours
400g buffalo mince
1 large carrot, finely diced
1 medium onion, finely diced
small knob of butter
1 rounded tbs plain flour
300 ml beef stock
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
75g frozen peas, defrosted
600g potatoes, peeled, boiled and mashed with a little milk and butter and lots of pepper
a little extra butter (optional)
Heat the oven to 150C, 300F, gas mark 2. Heat the butter in a flame proof casserole dish and fry the mince, carrot and onion together until the meat is browned and the onion and carrot softened. Remove from the heat and stir in the flour then blend in the beef stock and Worcestershire sauce. Return to the heat and bring to the boil, stirring constantly. Mix in the peas, cover and place in the oven for 2-2½ hours, checking from time to time to make sure it doesn't catch at the edges. It needs to be pretty thick, or the potato will sink, but not dry, so top up with a little hot water if needed.
Remove from the oven and increase the temperature to 220 C, 425 F, gas mark 7. You can keep the meat mixture in the casserole dish, or transfer it to a clean ovenproof dish as I did, then top it with the mashed potatoes.
Dot with a little more butter (optional) then bake in the hot oven for 30-40 minutes until the top is browned and crispy in places.
We served it with roasted home grown parsnips.
The verdict? There was no difference in the flavour between the buffalo and good quality beef mince. However the meat was extremely lean (which is why I added a little butter for browning, rather than cooking it in its own fat) and cooked into a beautiful tender mixture with no gritty or gristly bits. I'd definitely use buffalo again - I'd probably not drive 20 miles to the farm for it, but may well add a pack to my next Ocado order; it's rather more expensive there, at £6.49 for 300g when we paid £4.40 for 400g, but unless we were doing a huge shop, the cost of fuel to drive there and back would far outweigh the difference.
I'm sharing this with the Slow Cooked Challenge at Farmersgirl Kitchen