Bison meatloaf

Ideal for a red-meat fan looking for a low-cholesterol alternative, this riff on Ruth Reichel’s (ed.) The Gourmet Cookbook: More Than 1000 Recipes (2004, pages 449–450) original, adds more back-beat flavors….

First, you prep the additions to the meat, which will give it a nice consistency and good flavor. Then, you mix the meat and additions, and create the loaf on a large, low-sided pan—don’t use a loaf pan so the oven heat will kiss the meatloaf on all sides as it bakes. Finally, you add a moist, flavorful topping. At this point, you can hold the loaf in the fridge; add perhaps 5 minutes to the baking time if you do this.

Preheat the oven to 375°F, and remove 2 lb bison from the fridge, unwrap and set aside to lose some of the chill.

  • 1/2 to 1 c finely chopped onion
  • 1/2 c finely chopped carrot
  • 1/2 c finely chopped celery stalks
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped poblano pepper (or jalapeño if you prefer)
  • 1 T minced garlic
  • 1/4 c chopped bacon or pancetta, optional
  • 2 tsp olive oil

Heat the oil in a skillet over moderate heat, cook down the bacon a bit first (if you’re using it), then add the veggies, stirring and cooking them until softened. Alter the proportions or use a different pepper if you choose. (The original recipe does not include pepper or bacon at all.)

When veggies are soft, add the following and stir to combine thoroughly:

  • 3/4 c fresh bread crumbs
  • 1/2 c fine-chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 T ketchup
  • 1 T Worchestershire sauce
  • 2 T barbecue sauce
  • salt and fresh-ground black pepper
  • 1 large egg

Lightly oil a large, low-sided baking or jelly-roll pan. Now you’re ready to make the loaf.

  • 2 lb ground bison

Dump the ground bison into a large mixing bowl. Work the veggie-crumb mixture into the meat by hand. Do so thoroughly, but avoid over-mixing. Form the loaf in the center of the greased pan, patting it into a rectangular loaf approximately 10 inches long and 3 inches thick. This leaves a good space around the loaf—isolating so that heat can readily bathe all exposed sides.

Prepare the topping. If you clean the unusable layers off the onion (can be cut in half top-to-bottom), trimming to clean the root end, but keeping sufficient tissue that the onion layers remain united. Cut into wedges, with the cleaned base at one end. This will keep the wedges as wedges, rather than allowing the layers to fall apart. Of course, this is merely a visual thing, and doesn’t change the flavor.

  • Approximately 1 c small/medium onion, cut into wedges
  • 6–8 plum tomatoes, cut into wedges
  • 1/3 c water or wine
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 T barbecue sauce
  • salt and fresh-ground black pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped or sliced

Mix the topping and dump atop the loaf, allowing extras to fall to the sides.

Bake in preheated oven about an hour and 10 minutes. Look for 160°F on your meat thermometer. Transfer the loaf and large pieces of topping to a platter. Heat scrapings and juices in the pan, stirring and concentrating the flavors; dump over loaf on platter. Serve.

Bison meatloaf after too hot oven