Plains Indians Bison Meatballs

Book club was at my house this month and we just finished reading Empire of the Summer Moon. Each month we attempt to make foods based on the theme of the book. Some are easy themes (Japanese, comfort food, vegetarian) while others take a little more interpretation (what foods really represent themes of survival or pop culture?). Reading about the rise and fall of the Comanche Indians, the author describes in detail the foods the Plains Indians ate. While I am a stickler for details, I wasn’t so sure raw bison hearts should really be on the docket for menu items for my club.

I went for the next best thing: meatballs. I hadn’t made meatballs in quite awhile, but these are so simple and delicious I should really make them more often. I served these with a spoonful of or two of my favorite easy roasted tomato sauce I happened to have in my freezer.

Bison Meatballs
1 pound ground bison
2 teaspoons salt
1 scant teaspoon fresh oregano
1 Tablespoon tomato paste
1 egg
1/8 cup gluten free oat flour
1/8 cup brown rice flour
1/2 cup onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped

For the sauce:
2 cups roasted tomato sauce (or your favorite tomato sauce)
1 cup red wine
handful of basil

In a large bowl, mix all of the meatball ingredients with your hands. Let sit at room temperature while you prepare the sauce.

In a wide skillet, heat the tomato sauce until it’s at a low boil. Add the wine and simmer for 15 minutes.

Shape the meatballs into 2 inch round balls. Don’t be afraid to roll them in your hands to help shape them. When they’re all ready add them to the tomato sauce, cover the skillet and simmer over low-medium for about 3-5 minutes. The sauce should reach just about 1/3 up the meatballs. If there is more sauce, set some aside. If there is not enough, add a little water or more wine. Remove the lid, flip the meatballs over, re-cover, and simmer for another 3-5 minutes. The meat cooks quickly since I made them small and the meat is so lean. They are done when they’re no longer pink in the center (cut one in half to check).

Remove with a slotted spoon to the serving dish. Pour the remaining sauce over the meatballs. Tear the basil for garnish and serve hot.


About Salts Kitchen

I write. I eat. And I cook. I write about what I cook and eat. I love finding new foods, being inspired to make something I've never made, and most of all I love feeding other people things that they have never tried before. I like disproving myths about food and what it means to eat well, to eat healthy, often on a budget, and for some of us- to eat with a bunch of food allergies (and still eat well!).
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3 Responses to Plains Indians Bison Meatballs

  1. Sheba Kumbhani says:

    I wish I lived near you. Your life sounds so fun.

  2. I love this idea! We have a fantastic Bison rancher–Lindner–who sells at the Santa Monica Farmers’ Market. The family has been in the bison biz for over a century not far from Mt. Lassen. Anyway, since bison is so lean, simmering ground bison in a robust sauce sounds like the perfect way to keep the meat moist!

  3. Pingback: Crispy Polenta with Wild Mushrooms and Arugula | Salts Kitchen

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