The Gleeful Gourmand: Venison Meatball Subs

Friday, August 14, 2015

Venison Meatball Subs

I'm excited to have my husband, Buck, as my guest blogger this week! With Fall right around the corner and our venison supply dangerously dwindling, we thought it was time to get all you hunters and game lovers excited with one of our favorite dishes. I'll admit it, sometimes I get a little exasperated at hunting season. Buck tries to go hunting during the week as much as he can (that's easy to do when you own your company!) but it takes him away from us on weekends too. With three young kiddos, it's not always my favorite pastime of his. But it's hard to stay exasperated when he comes home with enough meat to fill a freezer, and then takes that meat and makes us gourmet meal after gourmet meal. Honestly, it's a win/win situation for me! Without further ado, here's Buck:

I guess with a name like "Buck," it was inevitable that I would one day I would become a hunter. The fact is that growing up in L.A., it wasn't something I was exposed to until well into my teens, and even then it wasn't for the whitetail deer that are so plentiful here in my "home" state of Virginia. But since transplanting and making myself at home in the Old Dominion, there's no season of the year that I look forward to with more excitement and anticipation than hunting season... and seeing as how we're right on the transom of that wonderful time of the year (urban archery starts in September... yeah!), Jenna asked me to write about one of my specialties: Venison Meatball Subs!

Capturing the Meatball Sub process.
First of all, I want to address something that I hear all the time whenever I tell folks that I'm going to be making venison. I'm constantly asked, "doesn't it taste kind of gamey?!"  When it comes to a "gamey" taste to venison, or any number of other wild meats, I think it's important to point out that the meat itself does not have that kind of taste. However, unlike domestic beef, pork or other meats that are slaughtered and processed in a very contained and consistent environment, when it comes to wild meat, there are a HUGE number of factors that can influence the flavor of the end product. Where was the animal shot? Was it cleaned properly/quickly? How warm was the weather and how quickly was it processed and refrigerated? Trust me, I've seen guys who shoot a deer and then leave it out all day in the sun on days not cold enough to keep it properly preserved - in my mind, it's a complete waste because the meat, while it might still be safe to eat, isn't going to taste nearly as good as if they'd immediately cooled it, cleaned it, and taking it for professional processing. So when you do come across "gamey" tasting deer, elk, or moose, don't blame the animal...blame the hunter who didn't treat it properly!

So with that rant out of the way, here's how I make my delicious venison meatballs. As I said the other day - only realizing after the fact what a seemingly bawdy statement I'd just made - "My meatballs are so good, I'd put them up against anyone else's!"  Well, there's no need for us to mash our meatballs, but I do think you'll be extremely surprised to taste just how flavorful and satisfying these meatball subs are.

Venison Meatball Sub

1 lb venison sausage
1 lb ground pork
1 green pepper (diced)
1 yellow onion (diced)
1 box of mushrooms (sliced)
3 cloves of garlic (chopped)
1 bottle marinara sauce (whichever you prefer)
1 egg (beaten)Spices, including ground pepper, garlic salt, and Creole spice blend (we use a brand called Tony Chachere's... it's outstanding!) to taste
1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese1 cup Italian bread crumbs
4 Tbsp. of butter (divided in half)
Olive oil (3-4 Tbsp.)
Sub or Hoagie rolls
Sliced Provolone cheese

• Sweat the onions over medium-low heat in 2 Tbsp. butter and 2 Tbsp. olive oil. Once they start to turn clear, add your garlic and green peppers. Cook until the peppers soften a bit, then add the mushrooms. After about 2-3 minutes, pull the sauté pan off the heat and pour your marinara sauce into a medium pot. Add all of the cooked veggies to the sauce and heat over a low temperature.

• Take your venison sausage and ground pork and combine them in a large mixing bowl. Add the breadcrumbs, spices, and beaten egg, mixing very thoroughly (I do this by hand, but I suppose it could be done in a mixer as well... but what fun is that?!). Once you've got everything well mixed (you can tell the pork from the venison as the latter is quite dark, while the pork is very want to make sure each meatball has about an equal amount of both to get the right flavor and fat ratio), start to form the meatballs. You want them to be small enough to fit into the palm of your hand and as close to equal size as possible so that they will all cook at a consistent rate.  

• Heat up a large pan (I prefer a cast iron skillet) over medium-high heat. Add 2 Tbsp. of butter. Once you see the butter bubbling, add in the meatballs. Brown the meatballs on all sides so that they are brown all over. Once browned, remove pan from the heat.

• Slice your rolls and "hollow" them out a bit by removing some of the bread on the inside - you want to have plenty of room for the meatballs to sit inside the bread (much like a "toad in the hole" sandwich). Depending on the size of your rolls, you should be able to get 2-3 meatballs per roll. Pour some of the marinara and veggie sauce on top, then place the Provolone cheese on top. Put the rolls on a baking sheet and pop them in the broiler for about 2-3 minutes.  Once the cheese starts to brown on top, you know they are ready.  

Slightly spicy, loaded with veggies and provolone - what's not to love?

Grab yourself a cold, frosty beverage and dig right in... they're delicious, I promise!! You just need to be "game" to give 'em a try!

(and Buck)


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