Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Recipe: Crock Pot Buffalo Pot Roast

We're big fans of beef. But getting our hands on beef raised without synthetic hormones, antibiotics, or other nasty stuff isn't easy (or cheap). When our local warehouse-style grocery store started carrying buffalo (also called bison), we thought we'd give it a try.

Buffalo are about as well-adapted to America's grasslands as a beast can get, having been here evolving since the Pleistocene. This means that they pretty much raise themselves, and therefore don't require antibiotics or hormones.

Due to buffalo meat's relative leanness compared to beef, and the fact that it is typically grass-fed, buffalo has about 50% less cholesterol tha
n beef, and is high in essential fatty acids (like omega 3 and omega 6).

We've found the taste of ground buffalo and buffalo pot roast to be excellent. It isn't gamey at all, and has a nice "beefy" flavor that's mild, sweet, and would fool just about anyone if you didn't tell them it wasn't beef (I happen to think that rescuing American bison
from the brink of extinction and placing it on the dinner table is a story worth telling!).

Our story went like this:

  • 2-3 lb. buffalo pot roast
  • a dozen fingerling potatoes (or 2-3 russet potatoes)
  • 3-4 large carrots
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 quart chicken broth
  • 4-6 tablespoons canola oil
  • coarse (kosher) salt
  • cracked black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons flour (I used Bob's Red Mill gluten free all purpose flour)
  • a pinch of dried thyme
  • garlic powder
Heat a cast iron dutch oven on medium heat until hot, then add 3-4 tablespoons canola oil. While the pan is warming, liberally coat the pot roast with salt and pepper, and give it a lesser sprinkling of garlic powder. When oil is shimmering (but before it smokes), toss in the pot roast to sear and brown it. Sear it on all sides, which should take about ten minutes, turning every few minutes.

While you're browning the roast, cut potatoes, carrots, and onions into rough 1 1/2 inch chunks. Remove the pot roast from the dutch oven when browned and place it in a slo
w cooker. Add the remaining 2-3 tablespoons of canola oil, and then add the potatoes, carrots, and onions to the dutch oven. Turn up the heat to medium high to give everything a quick browning (maybe 5 minutes). Add the flour to make a rough veggie-filled roux (gravy base), and then add the broth.

Be sure to get loose any bits of fond (browned meat-love) that have stuck to the pan, and dump the whole shebang into the crock pot (slow cooker). Add a pinch (or a few whole sprigs) of dried thyme, and enough extra salt and pepper to make the liquid nice and flavorful. Because your hunk of meat, potatoes, carrots, etc. have not yet absorbed any salt, it is OK to have the liquid be slightly on the salty side.

Cook in the slow-cooker (on low setting) all day (8-10 hours). Serve when convenient. In this case, we served the pot roast over rice. You could also serve it over mashed potatoes if you decided to add some other goodies like celery, squash, etc. to the main dish (probably leaving out the potatoes in that case, lest your guests suffer from tuber overload).

Don't forget to tell people about the return of the American bison.


  1. Sounds good to me, Derek. Thanks! I'm doing this buffalo roast a la crock pot with a side of whole stuffed pumpkin (bread, herbs, cream, etc; oven) for Thanksgiving next week.
    -- Marsha; N.Dakota ex-pat

  2. Hi Marsha,

    That stuffed pumpkin sounds amazing! We have one pumpkin left from the garden, so maybe I'll try something similar. Please let me know how the pot roast goes!



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