Asian Style Venison Meatballs

The hoisin sauce on these meatballs adds moisture and a bit of sweetness - and just a great flavor in general.
The hoisin sauce on these meatballs adds moisture and a bit of sweetness – and just a great flavor in general.

It’s springtime! We’re at the halfway point to when deer season opens up for another year. How’s your freezer looking? No more backstraps? Getting low on roasts? Have you even touched any of your ground venison yet? Don’t wait! You don’t want to get to the point where you are stuck with just one kind of meat. Sure there are lots of ground meat recipes, but here are some reasons I like to use my ground meat sooner rather than later:

  1. I don’t actually grind my venison before I freeze it – but what I usually dedicate to the grinder are the small scraps. The bits I was able to glean off the bone, or the parts that maybe I over trimmed a bit from the roasts… The point is that they are small bits of meat. Smaller pieces expose more surface area to air. This increases the potential for spoilage over time. Before it was froze, that area was all exposed to air and the cutting board – and potential microscopic nasties. In the freezer, the same extra surface area increases the possibility of freezer burn. Of course, properly handled and wrapped meat can last years in the freezer – but by it’s nature, ground meat has the highest risk of going bad the quickest – so use it up!
  2. I like variety in my cooking. While the loins might be my favorite cut, I’d rather have them less often so I can enjoy them throughout the year and not just the first month after deer season. So, break out the ground meat early on, so you can enjoy those choice cuts later on.
  3. You never truly run out of ground meat. If you have a grinder, and you have any cut of meat, you have ground meat. So use that trim meat as early as possible. That gives it the least time to spoil and since it’s the lowest quality meat, enjoy it at it’s best. Once it’s gone, you can always grind a higher quality roast – and you will be rewarded with a higher quality meal!

Here’s a meatball recipe to help you use that trim meat up. Don’t ever let your venison meals be boring and lacking flavor. This recipe is easy, it’s quick, and it’s TASTY.

Make the meatballs a little larger (1.5") to serve as a main course, or make them smaller (1") for some tasty appetizers.
Make the meatballs a little larger (1.5″) to serve as a main course, or make them smaller (1″) for some tasty appetizers.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb of ground venison
  • ½ cup of panko bread crumbs
  • ½ cup of thinly diced green onions
  • 2 cloves of minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon of minced ginger, or ¼ teaspoon of ground dried ginger
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon of sesame oil
  • Sesame seeds

For Sauce:

  • ½ cup of hoisin sauce (found in the asian section of grocery store)
  • 4 tablespoons of rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons of soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon of sesame oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon of minced ginger, or ½ teaspoon of ground dried ginger

Process:

Heat the oven to 400°.

Set aside some of the green onions to garnish the meatballs after they are cooked. Combine the rest of the onions and all of the meatball ingredients except the sesame seeds (also for garnish) in a large bowl and mix well. Roll into roughly 1″ meatballs and place on a greased baking sheet, and pop them in the oven.

Cook for about 10-12 minutes – or until the meatballs are cooked all the way through.

While the meatballs cook, combine all the sauce ingredients and thoroughly mix.

When the meatballs are done, remove from the oven, and dollop the sauce on each meatball. Sprinkle the rest of the green onions and some sesame seeds over the top, and serve. Make up some wonton soup to go with them – you’ll use even more of your ground meat and it’s a great pairing!

 

 

The Best Steak Sandwich – Venison Tenderloin

TenderLoinSandwich
Venison pepper, onion, and mushroom sandwich – a fast meal that works at camp or at home

Some people may think me a bit crazy. “Venison tenderloin?! In a sandwich?! What a waste!” Many hunters only ever have the tenderloin as a quick grilled roast, and I have nothing against that. What I will say is, making a sandwich with the best ingredients will give you a meal you will remember.

The tenderloin is usually one of the first cuts of of the deer to hit the table after the kill. Two main reasons for this: 1) they are naturally the most tender cuts, and 2) you have to cut them out right away or they will get tainted, or worse, wasted.

The reason they can be ruined is because of location. They are located inside the abdominal cavity, and and are directly exposed to the elements (and anything that might happen during dressing) once you field dress the deer. I normally remove the tenderloins during field dressing, or immediately once I get the deer back to camp to minimize exposure. The tenderloins aren’t very big to begin with, I don’t want any of it to go to waste!

Now, I’m posting this under “recipes”, but as it’s a sandwich, this is really just a general process. I like sandwiches. No, you don’t understand. I REALLY like sandwiches. So, my general goal is to make every sandwich I eat the best sandwich ever. At the same time, it is just a sandwich, so unless you turn the meat to leather, or commit some other sandwich atrocity, you really can’t go wrong…

TenderLoinFlat
Flattened venison tenderloin – turn a roast into a steak for usage options.

To start, take the tenderloins and flatten them out with my tenderizing method. You may ask yourself “why are we tenderizing a tender cut of meat?”. My response, in usual fashion is, two reasons: 1) I’ve had tough tenderloin, even when cooked rare, and 2) the resulting flattened steak cooks more uniformly.

When tenderizing the tenderloin, I normally don’t slice it in half as I did on the loin example in my other post. Because they are so much smaller than the loin, there’s no need to. Just flatten them right out as is – I like to get them to about three quarters of an inch to an inch.

Once flattened, coat with olive oil and a generous coating of salt and pepper on both sides. Then let them sit in the fridge – sometimes I’ll do this for just  15 minutes, sometimes I’ll let them sit there all day. If you have a tough old buck, letting it sit longer will make it more tender.

Once dinner time (yes, I eat sandwiches for dinner) comes around, get your cast iron skillets out, and start prepping any other ingredients you will be stuffing between your bread. This time around, I went with some peppers, onions, and mushrooms. Once they are cooked, THEN you get your skillet ready for the tenderloins. They only take a few minutes to cook, so I always prep everything else first – you don’t want the venison to get cold waiting for the onions to caramelize.

Add enough oil to cover the bottom of a skillet big enough to hold the two flattened steaks. Put it on medium high heat. Once the oil is HOT (if it’s smoking it’s too hot), throw the steaks in. Cook them for just two to three minutes per side – if your pan is hot enough, they will have a nice sear on the outside, but still be rare to medium rare in the middle. Pull them off and let them set for about five minutes. Take this time to get the rest of your fixings ready.

Since you have some nice flat steaks, you have some options on how to serve them in the sandwich. You could leave the steaks whole. More often, what I’ll do is slice the steaks into half inch strips (across the grain), and then add them to the sandwich.

In a nutshell, flatten the tenderloins, season them, then cook them fast and hot. This could be done from start to finish in less than ten minutes. The loins can easily be substituted here as well – I wouldn’t normally use other cuts besides loins/tenderloins because they’ll be tougher.

And most importantly, always remember: EVERYTHING is better in a sandwich.