Buffalo, Mushroom & Feta Meatballs with San Marzano tomato sauce

August  9, 2010
Author Notes

These meatballs are much more interesting than your classic meatballs. The mushrooms bulk out the meat, making them affordable to make and combined with the buffalo meat you have a much healthier meatball too! Serve on top of pasta with warm crusty bread for mopping up the juices. - Londonfoodieny —Londonfoodieny

Test Kitchen Notes

This is a well-executed meatball recipe replete with good tips. I completely support baking the meatballs in a hot oven (15 minutes was good at 425°F), then I transferred them to the sauce to finish and absorb some of the tomato flavor. Using the thin basil stalks puzzled me at first, but then I realized that when you spend money for herbs, using each portion to maximum potential is a good thing. – Amber Olson
—The Editors

  • Serves 4-6
  • Olive oil
  • 1 large onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 large garlic clove, peeled and finely chopped
  • 28 ounces can whole San Marzano tomatoes
  • small bunches fresh basil, thin stalks chopped, leaves picked and reserved
  • 8 ounces Cremini mushrooms, finely chopped
  • 1 pound ground buffalo meat (bison)
  • 1/4 cup freshly chopped parsley
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 ounces feta cheese, broken into pea-sized cubes
  • 1 pinch ground cumin
  • 1 pinch ground corinander
  • 1/2 lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
In This Recipe
  1. Heat the oven to 425F (400F convection) In a medium-sized deep frying pan heat 1 Tbsp olive oil over a medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook until softened, without coloring about 5-10 minutes. Add the garlic and chopped basil stalks and cook for a further 1 minute.
  2. Transfer half of the onions/garlic to a large bowl. To the remaining onions/garlic in the pan, add the San Marzano tomatoes and a 1/3 can full of water. Bring to a boil and let gently simmer for about 15-20 minutes until thickened. At this point you can blend or keep chunky. Season to taste.
  3. Meanwhile, In a new large frying pan, heat a drop or two of olive oil over a high heat. Sauté the mushrooms until lightly golden and softened (about 2-3 minutes). Add to the bowl of onions/garlic and allow to cool.
  4. To the cooled onions/garlic/mushrooms add the remaining ingredients and use your hands to gently but thoroughly mix together. Form into 16 balls about the size of golf balls. The mixture is quite wet but don’t squeeze too hard together or the meatballs will be tough. Place onto a baking tray (either greased or lined with bake-o-glide).
  5. Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes, or until lightly golden. (check after 15 minutes, times will vary depending on oven temp) If you know that your oven is cool, cook at a higher temp. Serve with pasta, salad, bread…you name it. Top with some of the tomato sauce, drizzle with a little bit of olive oil and if you have the basil scatter with a few torn leaves to serve.
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