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New Hampshire's Wild Eats:
Meatballs Make the World Go 'Round

In New Hampshire's Wild Eats, we offer two meatball recipes, Bear Meatballs and Teriyaki Venison Meatballs. To take it a step further, in the November/December issue of NH Wildlife Journal magazine, author Becky Johnson offers advice on how to use more wild game in meatball recipes. Below are the recipes mentioned in the issue.

Wild Eats recipes

 

 

NH's Wild EatsExcerpted from New Hampshire's Wild Eats: Cooking Your Catch cookbook.

 

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Yield: Around 24 meatballs

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound ground wild game
  • 1/2 cup plain toasted breadcrumbs, or 1 cup bread chunks
  • 1/4 cup half-and-half
  • 1 egg
  • Plus more plain toasted breadcrumbs for coating meatballs

 

Instructions:

 

Combine in a mixing bowl the ground wild game, breadcrumbs, half-and-half, and egg. The half-and-half acts as a tenderizer for the meat, while the egg and breadcrumbs are binding ingredients.

 

When you select breadcrumbs for your meatball binding, choose unseasoned with a fine texture. Finely ground cracker crumbs or croutons also work in place of breadcrumbs. Panko consists of rough-textured Japanese breadcrumbs that can be used in the binding, but is best used to give the exterior of the meatballs a crisp, crunchy texture. Chunks of Italian or French bread also work well as binding. Tear up the bread into small pieces. You’ll need 1 cup for every pound of meat. Soak the bread pieces in the half-and-half to make a panade before combining with the other ingredients.

 

As with white and red wine food pairings, lighter-colored meats, such as squirrel, rabbit, and wild turkey breast, work best with light-colored spices, such as cardamom, and coriander, and green herbs such as tarragon, basil, and mint. Darker-colored red meats, such as deer, bear, moose, and wild duck, work best with bolder spices, such as peppercorns, anise, cloves, fennel seeds, and thyme. Garlic, dried juniper berries, and dried powdered chiles work interchangeably with small and big game.

 

Once you’ve added herbs and spices, use your hands to incorporate the ingredients. To keep the meatballs tender, don’t overmix. Roll segments of the meat mixture by hand into 24 balls, about 1½ inches in diameter. Allow the meatballs to rest in the refrigerator for 15 minutes.

 

Working in small batches, coat the meatballs in breadcrumbs, and then lightly brown them on all sides in a skillet with a few tablespoons of rendered bacon fat. To finish cooking, place the meatballs on a parchment-lined baking sheet about an inch apart, and bake for 20 minutes at 400°F, or simmer in a broth, glaze, sauce, or gravy for at least 20 minutes. The internal temperature should reach 160°F, and the meatballs should be even in color with no pink in the middle.

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"Drunken" Scottish Meatballs
  • 1 basic meatball recipe using ground small game such as rabbit or squirrel
  • 1 cup crushed tomatoes
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 cup Kentucky Bourbon or Scotch Whiskey
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

 

Brown meatballs as directed in the basic meatball recipe, either in oven or in skillet.

 

In a crockpot, combine all other ingredients and blend well.

 

Add meatballs and cook covered on high setting for 1 hour, and then reduce to low and cook an additional 2 hours.

German Klopse
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped tarragon
  • 1 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 1 basic meatball recipe using equal parts ground veal and small game such as rabbit or squirrel
  • 1 tablespoon rendered pork fat or olive oil
  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon each salt and ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 1/4 white wine, such as Riesling
  • 2 pounds Yukon gold potatoes or new potatoes, cubed and boiled until tender

 

Add the first 4 herbs and spices to the basic meatball recipe and form into balls. Brown meatballs as directed in the basic meatball recipe, either in oven or in skillet. For the best flavor, cook in rendered pork fat. Remove and set aside.

 

In a skillet, melt butter and add in the salt, pepper, and garlic. Stir in flour to make a roux. Cook over medium-low heat until browned, about 1 to 2 minutes, stirring constantly.

 

Pour in chicken stock and wine, and stir well constantly until sauce thickens. Remove from heat and add in meatballs and potatoes.

 

Cajun Boulettes
  • 1 basic meatball recipe using ground wild turkey
  • 3 tablespoons Kentucky Bourbon or Scotch Whiskey
  • Breadcrumbs
  • 3 teaspoons of your favorite Cajun or Creole seasoning

 

Add bourbon or whiskey to the basic meatball recipe using turkey, along with 1 teaspoon of your favorite seasoning. Form into balls. Add 2 teaspoons of the seasoning to the breadcrumbs and roll the meatballs in the mixture. Bake or fry according to the basic meatball recipe.

 

For a Creole spin on this recipe:  Replace the turkey with minced crabmeat or whitefish and the seasoning with 1/4 cup fines herbs, which is made from finely chopped parsley, chives, tarragon, marjoram, chervil, and lemon zest.

 

Italian Polpettes
  • 3 tablespoons finely diced onion
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 basic meatball recipe using equal parts ground pork and venison or bear
  • 32 oz of your favorite marinara sauce

 

Combine 1 basic meatball recipe using equal parts ground pork and game meat with the first 7 ingredients. Form into balls. Bake or fry according to the basic meatball recipe.

 

Heat your favorite marinara sauce and then add the meatballs. Simmer for ten minutes and serve over pasta, polenta, or on a hoagie roll.

 

Spanish Albondigas
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander seed
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 basic meatball recipe using ground venison or bear chorizo sausage
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 32 oz roasted beef bone stock (roast beef bones in oven at 400°F for 30 minutes)

 

Combine 1 basic meatball recipe using ground venison or bear chorizo sausage with the first 7 ingredients. Form into balls. Bake or fry according to the basic meatball recipe.

 

In a stock pot, add olive oil and red pepper flakes. Turn heat to medium and sauté until oil starts to turn red, about 1 minute. Add the meatballs and roasted beef bone stock. Simmer, covered, over low heat for 1 hour.

 

Indian Kofta
  • 1 basic meatball recipe using venison, substitute 1/4 cup coconut milk in place of the half-and-half
  • 1 teaspoon of your favorite curry powder (or grind together 1 teaspoon each coriander, cumin, cardamom, turmeric, ginger, fenugreek seeds, black peppercorns, mint, and a few threads of saffron)

 

Combine the basic meatball recipe using venison and curry powder. Substitute 1/4 cup coconut milk in place of the half-and-half. Form into balls. Simmer the meatballs in curry sauce or skewer them on metal or wooden skewer sticks and grill the meatballs as kebabs.

 

For a quick and simple curry sauce: In a skillet, heat 4 tablespoons olive oil, add 2 large chopped onions, and 2 crush garlic cloves. Add 2 tablespoons curry powder and 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, stirring constantly. Gradually add in 4 cups coconut milk and 2 tablespoons light cream. Simmer over medium-low heat for 5 minutes, or until sauce thickens, stirring frequently.

 

Swedish Köttbullar
  • 1 basic meatball recipe using ground wild turkey
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 teaspoon ground white peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon ginger powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon blackstrap molasses
  • 2 cups wild game broth
  • Approximately 1 tablespoon wild currant or lingonberry jam

 

Combine 1 basic meatball recipe using ground wild turkey with the spices and 1 tablespoon of molasses. Form into balls and set aside.

 

In a skillet, whisk together wild game broth and a dollop of currant or lingonberry jelly, and then poach the meatballs in the sweet broth over medium heat for about 10 minutes, or until meatballs are cooked through.

 

Chinese Shi Zi Tou
  • 1 basic meatball recipe using equal parts pork and wild game such as ground rabbit, duck, or wild turkey
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Chinese 5-spice powder
  • 1/2 cup toasted sesame seeds

 

Combine the basic meatball recipe using a 50/50 mixture of pork and wild game. Mix in a splash or two of soy sauce and your favorite Chinese five-spice blend. Form into balls. Pan fry or bake the meatballs, and then toss them with toasted sesame seeds before serving.

 

To make your own Chinese 5-spice powder, grind together 1 teaspoon each cinnamon, cloves, fennel seeds, star anise, red pepper flakes, and Szechwan peppercorns.

 

 

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