Photo by Tam West
To celebrate the start of autumn, Deer Industry New Zealand recently sent a pack of venison mince and a recipe card for venison meatballs. The picture on the card got an instant “yum” from the team in the Bite kitchen and we couldn’t resist making them up for lunch with bread (that’s our variation in the shot above). They were better than yum and I have since made them twice for dinner — once for guests who couldn’t believe their luck — everyone loves meatballs. This recipe by Tom Hishon, owner of Orphans Kitchen, is now my favourite way to serve venison and my new go-to meatball recipe. Tom recommends you make a few extra meatballs for lunch the next day … heck yes!
For the meatballs
|3 Tbsp||Worcestershire sauce|
|1 Tbsp||Wholegrain mustard|
|1 tsp||Dijon mustard|
|1 large||Shallot, finely diced|
|2 sprigs||Fresh rosemary, finely chopped|
|500 g||Venison mince|
|50 ml||Rice bran oil, or similar, for frying|
For the sauce
- Heat oven to 200C. Bring the mince to room temperature.
- In a large bowl mix the egg, worcestershire sauce and the two mustards together. Add the shallot and rosemary and a good grind of black pepper, then whisk to incorporate. Add the mince and breadcrumbs, using clean hands to combine well.
- Roll into generous-sized meatballs (you should finish with around 6-7), placing each one on an oiled baking tray. Cover and refrigerate while you make the sauce.
- Rub the whole tomatoes with a little olive oil and season with salt. Place in a baking dish and cook in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes, or until a good colour is established.
- Meanwhile, add the olive oil, chilli flakes, bay leaf, garlic and shallot to a pot and cook over a low to medium heat to infuse, without burning. After a few minutes add the wine, then increase the heat to high to evaporate the alcohol. Reduce the wine by half then stir in the tomato paste, water and the tomatoes from the oven.
- Simmer the sauce over a low heat for 10 minutes or until a desired sauce consistency is reached. Season as desired and keep in a warm place, ready to pour over the meatballs.
- Heat a heavy-based or non-stick frying pan to medium-high. Season the bottom of the pan with salt and the rice bran oil to avoid sticking. This will also create a flavoursome crust. Place the meatballs in the hot pan, seasoning the top with salt. Cooking times will vary depending on the pan. Focus on establishing a good, dark colour before turning the meatballs. Once coloured on all sides, take out of the pan and place in the oven dish you cooked the tomatoes in.
- Pour the tomato sauce over the meatballs and cook in the oven for 10 minutes.
Tom's cooking tips
- Pinot gris is the most suitable drop for these venison meatballs, although if you prefer red wine, feel free to swap out.
- Roll the meatballs quite large so they stay nice and juicy in the centre.
- Use other red meats for the mince but venison is my favourite in a meatball as it is leaner than other meats and they don’t dry out.
- This dish is super-versatile and is great matched with a crusty ciabatta, al dente pasta and some steamed greens or a simple salad.