Continuing my buffalo kick with this easy, vegetable-filled meatloaf, made without grain-based fillers. Things like bread and oats have traditionally been added to meatloaf to stretch the meat, but they are not really needed as a binder. For this recipe I added finely chopped cremini mushrooms and carrot to the ground buffalo, and topped it with a good quantity of caramelized onions. Caramelizing onions is a relatively slow process if you want to get them beautifully browned without burning, so I also offer a “cheaters” version in the recipe below.
This makes a large loaf, and the leftovers are great for lunches. You could cut the amounts in half if you are not into leftovers.
- 8 ounces cremini mushrooms, cleaned and trimmed
- 1 large carrot, cleaned and cut into chunks
- 2 pounds ground buffalo
- 1/4 cup dehydrated onion flakes
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon Aleppo pepper (or crushed red pepper, to taste)
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 2 eggs
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 large white onions, peeled and thinly sliced
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the mushrooms and carrot chunks in the bowl of a food processor, and pulse until they are finely diced.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the mushrooms and carrots with the ground buffalo. Use your hands to mix in the onion flakes, salt, garlic, Aleppo pepper, smoked paprika, and eggs. Transfer the mixture to an oiled baking dish, and form it into your favorite meatloaf shape (classic oval, a star, your favorite sports team logo...). Bake for an hour, or until the juices run clear.
- While the meatloaf is cooking, make the onions for the topping. Using a large, heavy skillet, heat the olive oil and onions over medium heat. Resist the urge to go higher than medium, or they will burn. Stir the onions about every 3-4 minutes--less frequently at the beginning of the cooking time, and more frequently as they have cooked down. You want them to reduce into a soft, golden-brown mass, and this takes about 30 minutes. When they have reached that stage, sprinkle with a little salt, and remove from heat. Top the finished meatloaf with the onions before serving.
- Cheater onions: You can use the same method but cook over medium-high heat, and when the onions have softened you can add in two tablespoons of balsamic vinegar. Cook for another 5 minutes, or until the onions are completely soft and look browned. Not as good, but much faster.
Ground buffalo is lean, so the mushrooms and carrots help keep this moist, and the onion topping adds a familiar sweetness and another level of flavor. Because of the reduced fat of the meat, you should avoid overcooking the loaf.
Thanks for reading,