Bison "Cube" Steak with Fresh Figs

This image courtesy of Joseph DeLeo

Even chef's like to play with words, which is how I came up with the name of this recipe. Cube steak is tough meat, pounded thin and barely edible. Bison strip steak, also called buffalo, is tender and succulent. When we were holding a series of tea-and-savory-food-pairing tastings at Heartbeat, I created this dish to pair with smoky bao jong tea, a kind of oolong tea. The challenge was to cook the steak in a portion size that was appropriate for a multitasting event. I cut the strip steaks into small cubes, which was logical, but they still were tricky to serve on a small plate with no knife and fork. I cut them into smaller cubes and then reassembled them into the original small steak, which was very easy to eat. Because the dish had become all about cubes, I call it "cube" steak.


Cooking Methodpan-frying, sauteeing


Total Timeunder 1 hour

OccasionFormal Dinner Party

Recipe Coursemain course

Dietary Considerationdiabetic, egg-free, gluten-free, lactose-free, low carb, peanut free, soy free, tree nut free


Taste and Texturemeaty, savory, sweet, winey


  • ½ cup dry red wine
  • Four 12-ounce New York strip bison steaks, 1½ to 2 inches thick, at room temperature
  • 4 to 8 teaspoons grapeseed oil
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • ¼ cup fig syrup or maple syrup
  • 4 fresh figs, cut into quarters
  • 4 sprigs watercress


  1. In a small saucepan, bring the wine to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat and simmer the wine for about 25 minutes, or until reduced to 2 tablespoons.

  2. Cut each bison strip steak into 4 equal square or rectangular pieces. Rub both sides of the steaks with grapeseed oil and season generously with salt and pepper.

  3. Sear the steaks in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat for about 1½ minutes on each side, or until lightly browned. You might find it easier to use 2 skillets.

  4. In a small bowl, whisk the reduced wine syrup and fig syrup together. Drizzle each steak with all but about 2 tablespoons of the wine mixture. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, turning constantly, so that the syrup glazes the meat. Cook about 2 minutes longer for rare, or 4 to 5 minutes for medium-rare.

  5. Transfer the steaks from the pan to a cutting board. Let them rest for about 3 minutes, or until cool to the touch. Cut each steak into small cubes. Reassemble the cubes into the shape of the original steaks, pressing them together to adhere, and place each on a warmed plate.

  6. Arrange the fig quarters on each plate and garnish with watercress. Drizzle the remaining wine syrup over each plate and serve.


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