12 March 2011

The Meat Ball

Dear Deer,

I'd like to set you up with my friend, Beef. I think your qualities are quite compatible, so you'll surely make a great match. I know your recent sausage makeover dressed you up a bit spicy, but Beef is so lean and mellow that he'll balance you out (he's grass-fed, you know). I have recommendations from some local farmers, the Dixons and the Truslers.

See you at the Meat Ball! Don't worry about what to wear, I've got it covered. I've got a groovy little mushroom sauce that'll be gravy with a little heat. You're going to look YUMMY.

Sincerely,

Mix Master Meat Eater

*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *
 
This one's for you, Jennifer R. Thank you for loving the food enough to ask about how to make it! There's no greater compliment...

Venison-Beef Meatballs with Mushroom Gravy Sauce
Disclaimer:  All measurements in this recipe are estimates, as I put it together for a friend's party and am trying my best to remember the process!  Sorry, folks. I'm pulling that "Mom's recipe guessing" card.
If you don't have a friend or relative that hunts, you'll have to find one. Remember my husband's venison chili? I used the last half of that 2 lb. tube...

1 lb. tube venison sausage
1 lb. ground beef
1 egg, lightly scrambled
1/2 c panko bread crumbs
1/4 c wheat germ
2+ tbsp soy sauce or bragg's liquid aminos (you can use worcestershire if you need to)
olive oil

*spice list follows...just eyeball it for your taste buds!
chili powder
Emeril's essence
garlic powder
onion flakes or powder (or both)
dried parsley
thyme
salt & pepper to taste

Mushroom Gravy: Trader Joe's has a mushroom soup in a box. Simmer about 5-6 cups of mushroom soup, add some white wine and a bit of cream if you so desire. Make sure it's a nice creamy consistency. You can make this ahead of time and freeze it or keep it refrigerated for a few days.

Materials: large mixing bowl, small skillet, medium saucepan, large skillet, casserole dish with lid or dutch oven

Chop up the onion and garlic and sautĂ© in a bit of olive oil. Meanwhile, place your thoroughly thawed meat in a large mixing bowl together (both venison & beef), then gently break apart the tube shapes (or blocks) so the most of the meat is exposed. After the onion and garlic are nice and sweaty (maybe close to 5 minutes on medium-low heat) take off of the heat and set aside (start heating a separate large skillet with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil and reheat the oven to 275Âșish). Add egg, wheat germ, bread crumbs and soy sauce to the meat. Sprinkle on your spices and once the onions and garlic have cooled, add them as well. Using your hands, start mixing the spices and bread crumbs into the meat. Don't overwork the meat, just gently push everything together until incorporated.

You can immediately begin forming meatballs about the size of a ping pong ball. Brown them in the large skillet, turning the meatballs to brown all sides. (Yes, you have to turn them). Place them in the casserole dish after you've browned them. Pour the mushroom gravy over the meatballs (to cover them) then place in the oven with the lid on for about 45 minutes to an hour. I don't even remember how long I had them in there, but I remember they were bubbling pretty good and the meatballs were given enough time to flavor up the gravy. You can also place the meatballs in a crock pot, cover with the gravy and simmer them on low for a few hours.

If you're making them for a party like I did, make the gravy and meatballs ahead of time -- freeze meatballs in layers with parchment in between. On party day, thaw, brown, then bake them in the gravy.

Have fun!!