Bacon-Wrapped Buffalo Meatloaf – What Have You Herd?

On paper, using ground buffalo in place of beef for something like a bacon-wrapped meatloaf is a no-brainer. It’s sustainably raised, low fat, and by most accounts, nutritionally superior to your average feedlot cow. The only problem is, it doesn’t work that well.

Most people who replace their ground beef with buffalo, in recipes like meatballs, burgers, and meatloaf, are usually disappointed. Ground buffalo is much leaner than ground beef, which is the biggest challenge. In case you’re new, it’s the fat that provides most of the flavor and moisture. Also, for whatever reason, pre-packaged buffalo is ground very fine, almost to a paste, which can lead to a rubbery meatloaf, unless you use a few tricks.

To make up for the lack of fat, we’ll not only wrap this in strips of bacon, but use some in the meatloaf mixture as well. To hedge our bets, we will also use lots of ground vegetables, and fresh breadcrumbs, which will provide much-needed moisture, and improve the tenderness.

This produces a meatloaf that really does melt in your mouth. The only dilemma you’re going to have is whether to tell your picky friends and family that this isn’t beef. Do you tell them before? Or, do you play it safe, and wait until they’re raving about it, before spilling the beans bison? Either way, I hope you give this a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for 6 large portions Bacon-Wrapped Buffalo Meatloaf:
2 tbsp butter
2 strips bacon for frying in butter
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
1 carrot, cubed
1 rib celery, sliced
1 bell pepper, chopped (any color or combo will work)
4 button mushrooms, quartered
3 cloves garlic
2 cups (not packed) fresh breadcrumbs
1/4 cup milk
1 large egg
1/4 tsp dried rosemary, or 2 tsp of freshly chopped)
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp fresh ground black pepper
*2 to 3 tsp kosher salt, or to taste
pinch of cayenne
2 lbs ground buffalo meat
7-8 strips thick cut bacon, or enough to wrap the meatloaf.

*to check for seasoning, once everything is mixed, fry a small piece of the meatloaf mixture and taste. Adjust if necessary, and recheck.

For the glaze:
2 tbsp rice vinegar
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp Dijon mustard

- Bake at 350°F for about an hour, or until you reach an internal temperature of 155°F. If desired, remove the meatloaf halfway through the cooking time, and apply a glaze.

Serve with a gravy made from the pan drippings, or use this easy mushroom sauce recipe from another meatloaf video.