I’m always on the lookout for something to do with a large inventory of ground venison — meatloaf, burger, sausage and, of course, meatballs. The versatility of the meatball is limited only by your imagination. Make it spicy, savory, or sweet and sour, but make it with just enough breading to bind it together so that it tastes like a meatball, not a dough ball.
If fresh herbs aren’t readily available, season the meatballs with Italian seasoning. Although the recipe specifies chicken broth, it works just as well with beef or any game broth or stock. This recipe is a tad long on garlic.
Whenever I prepare meatballs, I always make a large batch and freeze some for later. To keep their shape while frozen, cook and cool the meatballs before placing them in a single layer on a lightly greased baking pan. Place the pan in the freezer, and remove the meatballs when they are completely frozen. For best results, vacuum-package the frozen meatballs while still frozen, and return to the freezer for storage. Simply drop the frozen package into boiling water, and bring to serving temperature.
Italian Meatball Soup
The Italian Meatball
- 1 pound ground venison (about two cups)
- ¼ pound ground pork
- ½ cup onion, minced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ cup breadcrumbs
- 1 egg
- ¼ cup milk
- 2 tsp fresh oregano, minced
- 1 tbsp fresh parsley leaves, minced
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp pepper
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1 medium onion, roughly chopped
- 2 celery stalks, diced
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 carrots, peeled and diced
- ½ tsp red pepper flakes
- 1 tsp dried basil leaves
- 1 quart plus 3 cups chicken broth
- 1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes
- 4 cups fresh spinach leaves, stems removed
- salt and pepper
- freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl, and mix well (preferably with your hands).
- Divide the mixture into 4 fairly equal portions. Each portion should yield 12 to 15 equal-sized meatballs. Roll them as firmly as possible.
- Place the meatballs on a lightly greased baking pan, and place in the preheated oven for 5 minutes or until lightly browned. Rotate meatballs to brown evenly, and remove from oven to cool
- Heat olive oil in a stock pot over medium heat.
- Add onion, celery, garlic, carrot, red pepper flakes and basil leaves, and cook until onions are translucent, about 5 minutes.
- Add broth and diced tomato, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, and simmer for 5 minutes.
- Add meatballs to soup, and simmer for 5 minutes more.
- Add spinach leaves, and simmer for 2 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- To serve, ladle soup into bowls and top with cheese.