Sunday, April 13, 2014

Basic Italian Venison Meatballs


Hi everyone! We know... it's been awhile since we've posted anything. It's April, and half of our book is due at the beginning of May, so Rick and I have been mostly out in the field, trying to get the photos we need. And it's coming together, slowly. We want to make sure we get everything right. 

We are excited about this recipe because it was the first time we used our new meat grinder, the Weston #8 Pro 360 Commercial Grinder! It is a beauty and a beast, powerful, does the job quickly and is super easy to clean. 

For our first spin with the Weston meat grinder, we started off easy. Here's a basic, easy venison meatball recipe. Grinding meat is one of the best ways to use scraps and parts of the deer that is too tough or has too much silver skin running through it, like the lower parts of the quarters and the neck. Because venison is much lower in fat than beef, it's a healthy alternative when making meatballs, sausages or burgers. 

Servings: 8+ servings (about 22 meatballs)
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 20-30 minutes
Ingredients:
- 4 pounds of venison roast/scraps
- bacon, chopped (eyeball it so that it equals about 20% of your amount of venison, but it's really up to you)
- 3 tablespoons of fresh Italian parsley, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon of dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon of dried basil
-  2 tablespoons of garlic powder
- 1/2 cup of bread crumbs 
- 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt, or to taste
- freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
- 2 eggs


Note: It's not necessary to remove every bit of silver skin from your venison. It can be quite a chore, considering how sinewy certain parts of the deer can be. Many people don't bother with it. But, we still like to give our pre-ground meat a rough clean before putting it through the grinder, just to ensure the best texture and a "nicer" look without bits of silver skin throughout. 

However, we highly recommend that you try to remove as much fat as you can, especially on deer that ate lots of weeds and brush. 

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Cut up venison into small cubes, about 1" thick. Then follow the instructions on your meat grinder and send the meat through, fitted with the course grinding plate. Catch the ground meat as it comes out of the grinder in a large bowl. 
2. Next, replace the course plate with the medium plate. 

3. Then add the chopped bacon to the bowl with the coarsely ground meat. 

For best results, the bacon should be slightly frozen. This will help the grinder cut into the meat instead of just catching inside the machine and coming out only partially ground. If you're up to it, you can do this with your venison, too, but we never had a need for it, nor the freezer space. 
4. Send the coarsely ground venison and bacon mixture through the meat grinder again, this time with the medium plate. 
5. Next, add the parsley, oregano, basil, garlic powder, bread crumbs, pepper, eggs and salt. 

We used a seasoned bread crumb mixture. If you use plain bread crumbs, you may want to add more salt. The best way to figure out how much salt you need is by cooking a small piece of the mixture in a pan and tasting it. 
6. Combine the ingredients, and mix just enough so that the ingredients are evenly dispersed. 

7. Roll ground meat into balls, about 1 to 2 inches. Grease a cooking sheet, or two, and lay meatballs in one layer, evenly spaced so that they are not touching. Bake for 20-30 minutes, or until no longer pink inside. This will depend on how big your meatballs are. 
If you're not going to eat all the meatballs at once, you can vacuum package them and freeze for a later meal. They thaw and reheat nicely.

Serve these venison meatballs with your favorite spaghetti sauce or make meatball sandwiches! 
Always remember to thoroughly clean your meat grinder before and after each use. Unlike a steak, which is only exposed to bacteria on its surface, the entire surface area of your ground meat touches the grinder. If your grinder is contaminated, your entire batch of ground meat will be contaminated. 




 

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