Sunday, January 11, 2015

Buffalo Filet - Fried

I've never been a filet mignon person. I've never ordered a filet in a restaurant. I've always gone for rib eyes because of the greater marbling of fat. I had a thought change recently when Judy ordered a buffalo filet at Sylvan Lake Lodge in South Dakota. It was one of the nicest pieces of meat I've ever had: tender and very flavorful. 

For Christmas, Judy got me a very nice present, a bunch of buffalo meat, including a number of buffalo fillets. I've never cooked a filet so I checked out how to do it: Chef Mark Spelman on Youtube
These buffalo fillets were shipped in from Colorado.
The fillets were allowed to sit out of the refrigerator for about an hour to get to room temperature.
First, put seasoning on the top and bottom and all of the sides. Fillets are thick enough that the sides have a significant area that need to be covered. I used Himalayan pink sea salt and cracked pepper. 
Cracked pepper and pink sea salt coated the surfaces of the meat.
Then get a skillet hot and add both butter and vegetable oil to it. This will help make the desired caramelization on the outside of the filet. Put the filet in the pan and leave it on the first side for about 1 1/2 minutes. Then turn the filet over to the other side, swishing it around in the butter/oil combination to make sure it covers the entire surface, then turn the filet on the sides and give each side a turn in the pan, something I've never seen before. He pointed out that it gets a little smoky as the fat burns off from the oil and butter. He put in some shallots and garlic, along with cognac, toward the end of the process, something I opted not to do. Chef Spelman was cooking a rare filet and suggested that the heat could be turned down and that it could be cooked longer if you wanted it cooked medium. I had lots of oil and butter in the pan and it made a nice frothy boiling mixture which started to turn brown the longer it was in the pan. 
I've never cooked with so much oil and butter in the pan. 
During the cooking process, the oil and butter start to turn brown.
I subsequently looked at another video, by Di Kometa, who had some other suggestions. She uses a cast iron skillet which distributes heat well and can also be put into the oven, which she does to further cook the filet - she likes hers medium (she calls it medium rare but it is only slightly pink inside).  She suggests getting the meat to room temperature, she leaves it out of the refrigerator for an hour or more. Unlike Chef Spelman, she put a coating of vegetable oil on the outside of the filet before adding salt and pepper. Vegetable oil has a higher cooking temperature than olive oil. Unlike Spelman, she did not season the sides and she does not add any additional oil or butter to the pan, only the oil she originally spread on the filet before seasoning it. She does this to eliminate the smoke that comes from having more oil in the pan. She cooks the filet 2 to 3 minutes on the top and bottom, and then the sides for about a minute each. She then puts the entire skillet into a 400 degree oven for about 5 minutes, then uses a thermometer to test the inside temperature of the filet, inserting it through a side.  

The outside of the completed filet looks over-done, but you cut into it and beautiful red and pink butter is inside, with the red warm and the outside caramelized surface providing the seasoning. Very nice and tasty. I'm going to enjoy getting to know fillets as I consume them. I really prefer buffalo to beef, it has a nicer texture and you know that the buffalo has been raised on a better diet in a more humane enclosure. 
The completed buffalo fillets, looking pretty well-done.
But inside, nice pink/red and warm with great flavor, assisted by the caramelized coating on the outside.


  1. Buffalo meat really is wonderful. How great is it that you can look up how to cook things on youtube? You've got to feel sorry for our poor ancestors, having to figure it out on their own.

  2. I'm with Chris."Here, honey. Cook this tongue I just cut out of that there buffalo, would you?" On the other hand, having access to how to cook tongue means that people like you DO cook tongue. I'm looking forward to a few more of these tender fillets.