Years ago when I first moved in with my wife Amanda, she told me that she didn’t like wild game and wasn’t going got eat it. I told her that wild game has to be prepared properly and when cooked right is delicious. Amanda told me that her last boyfriend had said the same thing and cooked her some venison and it tasted gamey and gross. I told her that I have read a lot of cookbooks and have never found a recipe that read, “When finished, will taste gross.” I cooked Amanda some venison backstraps with a brandy cream sauce and she was blown away by it. That settled the matter, and she has been a wild game fan ever since.
Now, she still isn’t a big fan of the organ meats but not everyone is, and it took me a little longer to convert her into a wild game cook herself. Something about preparing it still intimidated her. She told me that she was afraid of messing it up and would feel really bad if she cooked something and it wasn’t any good. I understood that and agreed with her, because I remember feeling the same way. She was more comfortable working with ground venison, because it was easier to use, and asked if we could start making more.
After that I have always tried to keep a good supply of ground meat in the freezer. We use a lot of different kinds of ground chuck, whether it’s venison or bear or duck, or even rabbit. Burgers, meatloaf, and meat sauces are all good ways to incorparte into recipes.
One of the things Amanda is always trying to do is save time in the kitchen, and have meals ready made in the freezer. I don’t know about you, but we don’t have several hours to spend cooking dinner every night, and it takes some planning to have things ready. One of the meals Amanda found was a make ahead venison meatball recipe that yields five pounds of meatballs and can be used to make an endless number of meals.
From this one recipe for meatballs, we have made an Italian meatball soup, meatball subs with marinara sauce, spaghetti with meatballs, meatballs in cream sauce, and then these Spanish meatballs with peaches that is so simple to make but absolutely delicious. All of these were made with the same meatballs mix—and none of the final dishes took more than 30 minutes to make.
This is a my version of a recipe Amanda found in Better Homes and Gardens special make-ahead issue.
3 lbs. ground wild game (buffalo, elk, deer, bear etc.…)
2 lbs. bulk Italian sausage (store bought is just fine—I used a wild boar Italian sausage that I had made)
4 eggs, lightly beaten
3 cups of bread crumbs
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
¾ cup onion, finely chopped
¼ cup chopped parsley
6 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp salt
½ tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
½ tsp dried oregano
½ cup red wine
Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.
Combine all the ingredients working with your hands until all ingredients are well mixed. Form the meatballs about the size of a ping pong ball (approximately 2 tablespoons). Place the meatballs on a cookie sheet and bake for about 20 minutes until no longer pink in the middle. Allow the meatballs to cool, then divide into five bags. This recipe will make about 100 meatballs. Freeze the meatballs until you are ready to use them up to 3 months. When you are ready to use the meatballs thaw them out and then add them to whatever you’d like.