If you haven’t caught on just yet, I love venison. I’m always looking for new ways to cook it, as well as testing out ways to replace beef with venison in classic recipes.
My husband and I both had successful hunting seasons in 2014, with each of us putting one deer in the freezer. We were able to grind a lot, and as such I’ve become the delighted master of ground venison recipes. Meatloaf, tacos, Hunter’s pie, you name it, I’ve made a venison version!
Our family tries to do the traditional Sunday dinner as often as possible, so this past week we went to my in-laws for a nice pasta dinner, and my husband asked if I would make some venison meatballs. Hmm, sure, why not? If you can make a meatloaf, you can make a dozen or so mini versions easily enough, right? The goal was set, the meat defrosted, it was on!
We are enjoying an abundance of organic herbs from our own garden, so I decided to incorporate a few of them for a really nicely seasoned meatball.
The key to making venison meatballs is to monitor them closely when cooking. Because venison is so lean, they will dry out quickly if cooked for too long. We decided to bake ours, and then quickly tossed them in a pan with a little oil to reheat and crisp up at my in-laws before serving.
1-lb ground venison
1 cup Panko breadcrumbs
(3) egg yolks
(2) small garlic cloves, minced
1/2 red onion, finely chopped
1 small spring each: Rosemary, marjoram and thyme, de stemmed and finely chopped
Salt & Pepper to taste
Mix all ingredients together thoroughly, until well incorporated. The mixture should hold its shape well. If it’s too wet, it’ll stick to the bowl — add a little more breadcrumbs (no more than a 1/4 cup at a time), until it holds nicely. If it’s too dry, and doesn’t have that tacky feel to it, try adding some “wet ingredients” to offset the dryness. Sauces or liquid seasonings work well – like Worcestershire, liquid smoke, chili sauce or even a nice tomato sauce. Consider how you are seasoning the meatball before you toss in the kitchen sink, though.
Roll into your preferred size meatball. I like bite-sized meatballs, so I made mine about an inch in diameter, give or take a bit. This worked out to 20 meatballs, and two burger-sized patties for lunch (had to test the product you know, quality control!).
I baked them at 325-F for 10 minutes and they were beautiful. We tossed them in a hot pan with some olive oil for just a few minutes right before we ate! Unfortunately I didn’t take a finished picture of them, because we just dove right in, but I assure you they were wonderful, and with such a simple, quick recipe, you won’t be sorry you tried it!