Great Plains Risotto with Buffalo

Last night, I tried my hand at replacing pork chorizo with ground buffalo in a Risotto dish. Buffalo is a much leaner meat than beef and pork, therefore it is much healthier. However, with lean meat, drying out is a very real threat, because the fat plays an important role in absorbing flavor and keeping the meat moist. Therefore I used butter as a replacement fat to brown the meat in.

I used ground buffalo from Buffalo By Bike, because I picked up at the Mill City Farmer’s Market a couple weeks ago. Fortunately my Oregano bush has grown like a weed, so I’ve been able to use some fresh herbs.

Chorizo is one of the most flavorful and deeply flavored meats you can get, so I chose to season the buffalo to resemble chorizo. Now, buffalo is not the easiest or cheapest meat to attain, so any ground meat will do (although I recommend looking into where your ground meat comes from for safety purposes. Single sourced is better.)

Meat Seasoning:

1/2 lb Ground Buffalo

Smoked Paprika

Ground Cumin

Fresh or Dry Oregano

Black Pepper

Fresh or Dry Basil

Fresh Garlic

Crushed Red Pepper


To start out, I seasoned a half pound of ground buffalo with Smoked Paprika, Ground Cumin, Oregano, Basil, Crushed Red Pepper, Black Pepper, and Fresh Garlic. After I thoroughly mixed the seasonings in the with meat, I let it sit in a container in the fridge for about 20 minutes (but it’s not necessary). I added a little salt right before cooking, because I did not want to dry out an already lean meat.

Melt 1 Tbsp of butter in the same pot you’re making risotto in and brown the meat, adding more butter if necessary, taking care not to dry or burn the meat.

Once the meat is browned, remove it and put in a bowl to mix in at the end.

Risotto Ingredients

1.5 C Arborio Rise

Unsalted Butter

4 Cloves of Fresh Garlic

2-3 Shallots (or 1 medium Onion)

1/2 lb Shiitake Mushrooms (Stemmed and Diced)

Fresh Oregano and Fresh Basil (minced)

1 Sprig of Rosemary (leaves only, not the stem)

2 Small Ripe Tomatoes, cored and sliced

6 Cups of Chicken or Beef Stock

1/2 Cup of Red Wine

1/2 Cup of Grated Parmesan Cheese


1. Start out by melting 2 Tbsp of Unsalted Butter in the same pot you cooked the meat in on medium heat. Once the butter has melted, add your minced shallots(onions) and mushrooms. Cooking until the onions start to turn translucent.

2. When it seems as though your onion mixture is drying out, add more butter. Add the garlic, and sliced tomatoes and your fresh herbs to the mixture, keep it around medium heat to reduce the tomaotes and release the aromatics in the herbs. Stir to make sure nothing burns and to mix in the different flavors.

3. After the onions are almost transparent and the butter seems to have dried up,add you red wine and the arborio rice. Turn the temp. down a little and cook until the rice is a little translucent (adding butter if needed).

4. Once your rice mixture is ready, but before it starts to burn, slowly ladle in enough hot chicken stock to barely cover the rice and turn the temp down to medium-low, simmering.

5. Continually check on your risotto, adding stock when the previous stock has evaporated. This process should take about 30 minutes. The risotto is done when the rice is tender and maintains a stick consistency.

6. Now that your rice is done, mix in a 1/2 cup of grated Parmesan and your cooked buffalo. I put the lid on the pot after mixing it, and let it sit for 5 minutes to make it extra gooey.

I like to serve risotto with some kind of fresh green, because the greens lighten up a reasonably heavy dish.You should have a creamy, smoky, cheesy risotto with a little kick from the pepper in the meat.

Served with Fresh Arugula and a Parsley Garnish

To fully release the flavors in this dish, you should listen to these songs while you cook…

Park Bench People- Jose James

Talamak – Toro Y Moi

1957 – Milo Greene

Break You Off -The Roots

Beirut – Gulag Orkestar (Album)

Enjoy :)!


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