Venison Swedish Meatballs and Gravy
Swedish meatballs have been hot lately. Hardly a day goes by that a recipe doesn't pop up either on line or on television. And for good reason, since Swedish Meatballs make some fine grub, especially on cold winter evenings when you need something warm and filling to knock the chill off a long day afield. This recipe uses ground venison and rivals any meatball served at the lunch counter of your favorite Nordic bulk furniture store.
Ground venison on its own tends to fall apart when rolled into a meatball. To combat, I borrow a trick from my favorite grilled venison burger and grind a bit of bacon in with the deer meat. The extra fat from the bacon helps to bind the meatball and to keep it from getting dry. Plus bacon just tastes great.
When making meatballs, I like to use a fine grind for the meat so I run the venison through a course plate once, then combine the bacon and venison for a second pass through the fine plate on my Weston grinder. As you grind the meat, drop in a slice of bacon from time to time so that the resulting mix is fairly even.
Serve the Swedish Meatballs and gravy over egg noodles.
For the meatballs
2 lbs. ground venison
½ pound bacon
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1 ½ cups of bread crumbs, I like to make my own by drying bread that is a few days old in a 300 degree oven for 10 to 15 minutes, then chopping coarsely in the food processor.
1 yellow onion, diced and sautéed until soft in butter
1 clove garlic, diced
1 teaspoon of dried oregano or two Tablespoons of fresh, finely chopped
½ teaspoon allspice
3/4 cup milk
For the gravy
4 Tablespoons of butter
3 Tablespoons of all purpose flour
2 cups beef broth
1 cup heavy cream
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
salt and pepper to taste
Begin by grinding the venison with the bacon as described above.
Mix the bread crumbs with the milk and set aside for fifteen to twenty minutes or until the crumbs have soaked up most of the milk. Mix the breadcrumbs into the meat and add the rest of the meatball ingredients except the butter. Combine mixture well.
Using a small scoop or a spoon, form the meatballs into slightly smaller than golf ball size. Into a hot skillet, pour two or three tablespoons of vegetable oil. Add the butter and swirl the pan to mix the two. Brown the meatballs in batches, don't crowd the pan or your meatballs will steam more than brown. Eight to ten minutes per batch should cook the meatballs through. Transfer the finished meatballs onto a sheet pan and keep them warm in the oven while you brown the consecutive batches.
Once all the meatballs have browned, pour any excess oil from the skillet and add the rest of the butter. After the butter has melted, add the flour and stir for a minute or two to begin the sauce. Add the beef broth to the pan and scrape the browned bits left over from frying the meat from the bottom of the pan. Stir in the cream and all other sauce ingredients and blend with a whisk to form a smooth gravy.
The sauce will thicken as it comes to a boil. When it is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, add the meatballs to the sauce and reduce the heat to a slow simmer. Serve over well drained egg noodles with a slice or two of crusty bread.