3/28/2013 - The thought of eating anything other than beef, chicken and pork is foreign to some people. But for others, adding other meats into their diet has become the norm as they reap health benefits and explore new tastes.
The Healthy Buffalo in Chichester offers 20 different meats ranging from the more common — buffalo steaks, venison, beef and turkey — to more exotic meats like kangaroo, emu, wild boar, alligator and turtle.
The store opened in 1993 but was taken over eight years ago by Chris Kersch and his father James, who have since doubled the store’s offerings. Animal products are sourced locally as much as possible and contain no antibiotics, no growth hormones, are fed a natural diet without genetically modified organisms and are raised using humane practices. All of the meats are farm raised, with the exception of wild boar.
The buffalo and elk sold at the Healthy Buffalo come from a farm in South Dakota. As one of the store’s most common meats purchased by new customers, buffalo meat is the closest in flavor to beef but has about one-third the fat. One 4-ounce portion packs 32 grams of protein but only 2.75 grams of fat and 162 calories. Many customers looking to make changes in their diets but still enjoy burgers, steaks and roasts turn to buffalo meat due to its nutritional advantages. Other buffalo products available include hot dogs, a variety of sausage, jerky and ribs.
Kersch said when customers come into the store and are unsure of what to buy, he first asks about their preferences in taste and then makes some suggestions. Since some customers are less adventurous, he usually has samples available on Saturdays and Sundays, which helps customers try meats they may not normally buy.
“That usually becomes the seller for the week,” he said.
Kangaroo meat has gained popularity in recent years; the animals are being raised around the world because they do not give off as much methane as cows. Kersch said it’s hard to describe the flavor, as it has its own unique taste. It is very lean, high in iron and high in protein.
Texas wild boar meat comes in a variety of cuts from ribs and chops to roasts, sausage, bacon and patties. This meat contains about 5 grams of fat per four-ounce portion, 33 grams of protein and only 181 calories.
Other local farms offer their own farm-raised meats for anyone looking to purchase directly from the farm. Yankee Farmer’s Market in Warner (yankeefarmersmarket.stores.yahoo.net) offers its own buffalo meat, where the animals are fed a natural diet. Other meats include venison, elk, local lamb, free-range chicken and turkey, natural pork and pasture-raised beef.
Corn Hill Farm in Boscawen (cornhillfarm.com) offers red deer products, including venison steaks, ground meat and burger patties. Owners Pat and Joe de Almeida practice ecologically, economically and socially sound farming. Their venison meat is naturally low in fat and calories, with high protein content.
If you want someone else to do the cooking for you, the Kersch family recently opened a restaurant based on its shop offerings, The Hungry Buffalo in Loudon (hungrybuffalo.net). Seventy percent of the menu uses from products from the store.
Kersch said the unique menu has become popular. It’s a way for customers to try some of the meats in the store already prepared, including one of the most popular items, the buffalo brisket dish made with a local, no-sugar barbecue sauce. There’s also fried alligator bites with remoulade sauce, a roast wild boar plate with an in-house rub, baked stuffed quail with wild boar sausage stuffing or a grilled elk or emu burger.
Anyone who tries something at The Hungry Buffalo and likes it can turn to Kersch for cooking tips and recipes. He recommends cooking any game meat like buffalo or kangaroo at a lower temperature. Salt shouldn’t be used to season the meat, as it removes moisture in leaner meats like these. He recommends minimal seasoning, as it takes away from the flavor. Many of these meat products are good cooked on the grill, or in a crock pot in stews and chili, in stir fry or in most other recipes where beef is used.