Bison Saskatoon Meatballs

From Julie Van Rosendaal

2017 Sep/Oct

Bison and saskatoons, or other berries, make a classic combination, and were the foundation for pemmican, a traditional First Nations staple. This mixture of dried meat, berries and fat was easy to store. Saskatoons (or blueberries, if you can’t find saskatoons) add moisture and a dose of nutrients, and you can simmer a few in the pan afterward for a jammy sort of sauce. (Increase the berries and syrup if you’d like them saucier.) Serve the meatballs as an appetizer or as dinner, along with roasted or mashed potatoes and a green salad.


  • 1 lb. (450 g) ground bison
  • 1-1/2 c. saskatoons or blueberries (fresh or frozen), roughly chopped
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • canola oil, for cooking
  • 2 T. maple syrup
  • 1 t. chopped fresh rosemary


In a medium bowl, combine the ground bison and half the saskatoons or blueberries. Season with salt and pepper and shape into meatballs, any size you like.

Set a heavy skillet over medium-high heat, add a drizzle of oil and cook the meatballs, rolling them around in the pan until they’re golden all over. Cover and cook for a few more minutes, until cooked through. Transfer to a plate and add the berries to the pan along with the maple syrup and rosemary; cook, stirring to loosen any browned bits in the bottom of the pan, until the berries break down into a thick, jammy sauce. Return the meatballs to the pan and roll them around in the sauce to coat. Serves 4, or more as an appetizer.