Edible Bozeman

Bison Meatballs with Red Wine and Cherry Reduction

This recipe was created by Jody Engstrom and Jacqui Birmingham, two former Sadie’s Catering chefs who left a legacy that is continued by current chefs Arthur Sager, Josh Holman, and Stefan Hansen. Engstrom created the red wine reduction while experimenting with a sauce for crostini. It was so good that it has remained in the Sadie’s Catering repertoire ever since. Together, Birmingham and Engstrom perfected the bison meatball, which is now one of chef Sadie Morales’ favorites.


For the meatballs

1 pound ground bison
1 pound ground pork
¼ cup pine nuts
⅓ cup currants
⅓ cup golden raisins
1 egg
5 ounces finely diced cremini mushrooms
3 tablespoons half and half
3 cloves minced garlic
¼ cup diced onions
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon fresh-cracked pepper

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Mix the bison and pork in a bowl until combined. Try not to over mix or the meat will become tough. Add in remaining ingredients and mix until well combined. Line a baking sheet with parchment. Roll the meat mixture into 1½- to 2-inch balls and place on the sheet, leaving about 1 inch between them.

Bake for 15–18 minutes, until meatballs reach an internal temperature of 165° and are beginning to brown.

Note: If you are planning on freezing for later use, freeze uncooked meatballs on a baking sheet then place in freezer bags once frozen; this will keep them from sticking together.

For the reduction

2 diced shallots
1 bottle Cabernet
1 cup pitted cherries, fresh or frozen
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

If using frozen cherries, thaw by placing in a colander and running cold water over them.

Sauté shallots in olive oil. Once translucent, add the wine and cherries, cooking over medium-low heat. Reduce the liquid by half, then add the sugar and salt. Use an immersion blender to further break down the cherries. Taste to see if more sugar or salt is required. Remove from heat and stir in butter.

Meatballs can be served in the reduction, or the sauce can be placed on the side for dipping.

Wine Pairing

2021 Viña Maitia Roto Cabernet Sauvignon

Bison is a lean meat, and the surprising twist of mushroom and currants in these meatballs calls for a softer Cabernet. So, Dawson’s recommendation of a Cabernet Sauvignon blended with Syrah and Alicante Bouschet makes so much sense.


Recommendation by Jeremiah Dawson, owner of Vino Per Tutti (which translates to “wine for everyone”). Dawson has owned Vino Per Tutti since 2017. His friendly establishment is staffed with people who know and care about wine, beer, and cider, and who love their community. Looking for biodynamic, sustainable, organic wine, beer, or sake? Want an $11 drinkable red that’s easy to cook with? Talk to Dawson—as the name of his store suggests, his philosophy is that wine really should be for everyone.

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