Seasonal Cooking with Rita Calvert~The Local Cook 

Enough already with the turkey! Let's give it a break and get back to some real homey meatloaf made with ground beef OR bison. Now the buffalo (or bison) is one of the 'most in demand' meats in the country. Ranchers cannot keep up with consumers' choice to go with some of the healthiest meat that exists. When you think about it, bison are going to be basically "free" on pasture because you just can't keep that fiesty animal scrunched in a factory feedlot! Most of us bison lovers would say the meat tastes very clean and slightly sweeter than beef, and of course, it is much less fatty. Even after all this bison talk, the meatloaf is still excellent made with ground sirloin.

The succulent ravioli dish comes together without effort when you heat one of the quality premade raviolis and top it with Dave's Butternut Squash Pasta Sauce-a holiday condiment from Homestead Gardens. The vegetables are some of the stars of the earlty winter harvest. Spike them up with balsamic vingar.

Get a great crunch for dessert with biscotti spiced for the season and dipped in chocolate fudge.

  • Butternut Sauce on Ravioli 
  • Smoky Grilled Meatloaf 
  • Caramelized Onions with Greens and Rosemary
  • Gingerbread Fudge Biscotti

Smoky Grilled Meatloaf 

Inspired by Good Eats, Alton Brown’s television show, we love the addition of

something as healthy as rolled oats to absorb liquid and retain tenderness. A food processor makes quick work of chopping. Do not add the meat to the food processor; stir in manually. Ground meat should be handled as little and as lightly as possible. In fact, don’t even squeeze the final mixture.

serves 6 to 8

for the meatloaf:

  • 1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • Dash cayenne
  • ½ teaspoon barbecue spice blend of choice
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ medium onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 carrot, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 3 medium cloves garlic
  • ½ red bell pepper, seeded and coarsely chopped
  • 1½ pounds ground bison
  • 1½ teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 eggs plus 1 egg white

for the glaze:

  • ¾ cup chile sauce (available in the ketchup aisle of the supermarket)
  • ¼ cup pepper jelly, melted
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • Dash Worcestershire sauce
  • Dash bottled hot pepper sauce
  • 1 tablespoon honey

In a food-processor bowl, combine oats, pepper, cayenne, barbecue spice, and oregano; pulse to a fine powder, and then move to a large bowl. Combine the onion, carrot, garlic, and red pepper in the food processor bowl. Pulse until the mixture is finely chopped, but not puréed.

Add the ground bison and the mixed vegetables to a large bowl; season with salt. Beat the eggs, add to the meatloaf mixture and combine thoroughly, but avoid squeezing the meat.

to grill the meatloaf:

Heat the grill to medium.

Pack the meatloaf into 2 small loaf pans, 3 × 6 inches. Place the pans on the indirect heat side of the grill and close the lid. Check the meat temperature after 20 minutes. Medium-well is the best doneness for a moist bison meatloaf so cook close to 25 minutes, total, but rely heavily on the meat thermometer. It should read 140ºF.

for the glaze:

Combine ingredients. Brush onto the meatloaf after it has been cooking about 10 minutes and again several minutes before it is finished.


Caramelized Onions with Greens and Rosemary 

Serves 4

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large sweet yellow onion, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar
  • 6 cups greens-Swiss chard, kale or beet leaves, washed, dried and chopped

In a medium saute pan, heat the oil over medium high heat. Add onions and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook slowly, stirring occasionally, until golden brown and caramelized, about 30 minutes.

Add the rosemary, garlic, salt, pepper, and vinegar stir well to combine. Cook for 10 more minutes then add the greens just to wilt-about 5 minutes.

Gingerbread Fudge Biscotti

Makes about 30 biscotti

  • 1/2 cup butter (1 stick) softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 cup whole almonds
  • 8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted

Preheat oven to 375F. Lightly grease a cookie sheet.

With an electric mixer in a medium bowl, beat butter until fluffy. Add sugars and beat. Beat in eggs and vanilla.

Combine flour, spices and salt, beating until just combined. Divide dough into 2 equal portions and shape each into a log 3-inches wide and 1-inch high.

Bake 25 minutes; remove from oven and cool 5 minutes on cookie sheet and then wire rack for about 15 minutes.

Reduce oven to 325F.

Place each log on a work surface; carefully cut crosswise-and on the diagonal, into 1/2-inch thick slices. Lay each slice flat on the cookie sheet and bake 5 minutes. Turn cookies over and bake a final 5 minutes.

When cookies are completely cool, dip the ends in fudge and place on a sheet of wax paper until chocolate is firm.


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