Much can be said about the benefits of eating local food, but what about cooking with ingredients that are native to Minnesota? In our cold and long winters, it is important to take advantage of the delicious things we do have: lean and tasty bison meat and wild rice.
Buffalo By Bike brings humanely raised, 100-percent grass-fed bison to the Mill City Farmers Market all year long. Nicholas Heimer, owner of Buffalo by Bike, transports products like buffalo steaks, ground buffalo and buffalo hide leather on his bicycle trailer in order to keep his carbon footprint low. The Wild Idea Buffalo Ranch, where Nicholas sources his product, also actively supports the environment through grassland restoration.
Their bison eat nothing but nutrient-dense fresh pasture grass, making their meat delicious, healthy and rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Additionally, bison restore the land they graze to a greater level of biodiversity.
You can find Nicholas, check out his bike trailer full of bison and get the other ingredients you need for this recipe at the Mill City Farmers Market’s indoor winter markets, which run January through April. Find dates and more market details at millcityfarmersmarket.org.
By Chef Nick Schneider
The rice will expand three times after cooking, so you will need at least 1/4 cup raw rice. I recommend cooking a larger batch (1 cup raw) and removing the 3/4 cup cooked rice because a small batch of raw rice requires different ratios of water. Cook the wild rice a day or an hour before and allow it to cool.
- 1 lb ground bison from Buffalo By Bike
- 3/4 cup cooked wild rice from Birchberry or Prairie Hollow
- kosher salt (generous pinch) and fresh cracked black pepper to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 large egg
- 1/3 cup finely chopped green onion, white and green parts
- 2 teaspoons tamari or soy sauce
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- 1 cup unsweetened pineapple juice
- 1 cup stock or water
- 1/4 cup rice vinegar
- 1/3 cup light brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons fresh ginger, peeled & minced well
For the meatballs:
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Rinse the rice briefly in a sieve. Add rice, pinch of salt and enough water or stock to cover the rice by ¾ inch to a pot that is as wide as it is tall. Bring to a boil, cover and reduce to a simmer for approximately 25-30 minutes. The rice should be light and fluffy.
Mix the bison, spices, egg, onion and rice thoroughly by hand in a bowl. Form into meatballs approximately 1 ounce (1 inch) size for cocktail or canapés or larger for use in an entre of pasta with sauce, for example. The meatballs can be frozen flat on a sheet tray raw at this point.
Cook the meatballs by heating 3 tablespoons cooking oil in a large oven-proof sauté pan. When hot, add the meatballs in two to three batches. Allow them to brown a little on several sides, stirring or shaking the pan after the browning occurs. Put the pan in the pre-heated oven for 8-10 minutes until done. When they come out of the oven, add the some of the glaze to the pan, toss to coat and put onto tray or another bowl. Repeat next batch with clean pan.
For the ginger glaze:
Combine all the glaze ingredients and add to a saucepan. Reduce until thickened, approximately 10 minutes. This can cook on the back of stove while the meatballs are sautéing.
Toss or brush the meatballs with the glaze, insert toothpicks and serve.