'Bufftail Soup' -- Who Knew an Old Cape Buffalo Could Taste So Good! - Recipe and Video
Updated: Sep 1, 2021
No matter what type of hunting adventure I go one, eating the local foods and, especially, any wild fish or game taken, is always high on the agenda. While sitting in Virginia and discussing via emails my late June 2021 South African hunt with outfitter Phillip Bronkhorst and professional hunter Pieter Taylor, I noted that I wanted to sample any game we took, especially cape buffalo. And I wasn't talking about just having grilled backstraps or tenderloins -- I wanted to make “Bufftail Soup,” a cape buffalo version of a classic oxtail soup.
Oxtail soup is a tradition in many European countries and Great Britain, as well as Africa. Except for cultural pockets within the United States, it never seemed to gain a huge following here. Recipes abound for oxtail soup, some more of a broth-based with chunked vegetables and others with a smoother consistency.
I ended up getting a nice old buffalo on the fifth day of the hunt using my Mossberg Patriot rifle chambered in .375 Ruger. A 300-grain Hornady DGX bullet put the big buffalo down for the count with a single shot. It was time for soup! After having several multi-course meals at Bronkhorst’s beautiful Bateleur Safari Lodge, I knew that chef Never Mashonga would come up with something delicious.
After we brought the buffalo back to the lodge and skinned it, I requested the honor of removing the tail as well as the inner tenderloins. We also carved out a couple pounds of meaty steaks on the buffalo’s hump, hoping to deliver a rendition of an American frontier bison hump steak.
Taylor and Mashonga, a Zimbabwean, collaborated. They often spoke in Afrikaans, leaving me mostly clueless about the game plan. Eventually, the picture crystallized and I realized we’d be preparing a pureed version of the soup, velvety smooth, with tender, shredded buffalo tail meat folded back in.
This old buffalo was estimated to be about 12 years old. Mashonga optimistically thought the meat might be sufficiently tender after cooking for 60-90 minutes in a pressure cooker. Wrong! That old buff wore one tough tail. We didn’t start cooking until mid-afternoon and the meat ended up needing about four hours in the pressure cooker, which meant we couldn’t finish the soup in time to serve to camp that evening. That turned out to be a good thing, for as often happens with blended, stewed ingredients, having an extra day in the pot helps flavors meld together so much better.
The next evening, in typical safari fashion, all the other hunters and guests in camp gathered around the fire pit, enjoying drinks and sharing adventures. We served the soup fireside. It was a huge hit. The finished product's flavor reminded me somewhat of a robust beef and barley soup, albeit without the barley and sporting a much more luxuriant texture.
While I doubt that I’ll come across any cape buffalo tails here in Virginia, I hope to replicate the soup using oxtail meat.
Give it a try. As the South Africans say, “It’s Lekker!”
Good Hunting – and Good Eating.
Following is a printed recipe. The video also details nearly step-by-step preparations along with colorful commentary from the chefs.
1 buffalo tail (skin and hair removed – haha)
3 medium carrots – each cut into three pieces
4 medium onions – three quartered and one very coarse chopped
4 small white potatoes - quartered
1 tbsp minced garlic
3 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp all-purpose flour
Salt/pepper to taste
Braai (means barbecue) seasoning (a few dashes) basically coriander, paprika, cumin, salt/pepper
2 bay leaves
1 lb speckled beans
8 oz of tomato paste
3 quarts of water (or you could mix some water with a beef stock)
1 small tub (about 4 oz) of vegetable or beef stock concentrate, something like Knorr’s Homemade or Better Than Bouillon
1 packet oxtail soup powder mix (may have to order online)
1. Cut oxtail into small pieces, between the bone joints, rinse and set aside.
2. Peel, clean and chop the vegetables.
3. Lightly toss oxtail in flour, add olive oil to pressure cooker pot and heat to medium-high heat.
4. Add coarse chopped onions and meat to pot, stirring. Add initial salt/pepper seasoning. Stir. Add braai seasoning. Not too much – you can add more later. Stir.
5. Add chopped garlic. Stir. Do not let the garlic burn.
6. Once meat is nicely browned, add the larger, quartered vegetables. Stir until pan de-glazes.
7. Add one cup of water and stir in the uncooked beans.
8. Add another two cups of water or stock and two bay leaves.
9. Stir in the vegetable stock concentrate
10. Cover the pressure cooker and cook at least one hour. Remove lid carefully and check for doneness. If not completely, fall-of-the-bone tender, cook longer.
11. Let cool and then remove meat from bones, setting aside. Remove bay leaves from pot.
12. In a separate container, whisk together tomato paste, oxtail soup powder and about ½-cup of water and set aside.
13. Using an immersion blender, puree everything in the cooking pot.
14. Return pot to stove and reheat, mixing in the tomato paste blend.
15. Taste. Correct seasonings as desired.
16. Add in the shredded buffalo tail meat stir and serve. You can save a piece of meat to garnish the top of each bowl as well, if desired. Serve with a good, crusty “sopping” bread.