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Venison Meatball Rolls with Horseradish Mayo

Stacy Lyn Harris

meatball roll

Meatballs seem to exist in just about every country and culture. They may not be called a meatball, but assuredly that is what they are. Of course there are variations of ingredients depending from where you live, but the ingredients pretty much remain consistent: meat, herbs and spice, maybe a few breadcrumbs, and usually a source or sauce or soup to accompany them. Any ground meat will work, but if you’re like most hunters, you probably  have ground venison on hand for these venison meatballs.

The tanginess of the goat cheese is perfectly paired with the sweetness of the onions and peppers. Adding that note of horseradish in the mayo completes and perfects the roll. Hope you have a very lucrative season! Happy Cooking! 

Serves 4

Ingredients for the Meatballs

  • 2 medium Vidalia or yellow onions, divided
  • 2 tablespoon of olive oil, plus more for sautèing
  • 3 teaspoons ginger, minced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 pounds venison, cubed
  • 3/4 pound pancetta, finely diced
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, about 4 sprigs
  • 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 3/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 3/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 3/4 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 cup parsley
  • 1/4 cup Panko Bread Crumbs, as necessary

For the Sautèed Bell Pepper and Onion

  • Olive Oil
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 Vidalia or Sweet Onion

For the Horseradish Mayo 

  • 1 cup good mayonnaise (I prefer Duke’s)
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons brown mustard
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon prepared horseradish
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

For the Sandwich 

  • 8 uncut brioche hot dog buns
  • 8 ounces goat cheese
  • 1 red or green jalapeno pepper, seeds removed and minced

Preparation Method

In a baking dish, whisk together all brine ingredients until well incorporated. Mince 1 onion and add to a hot skillet. Drizzle olive oil into the skillet and lower heat to medium. Add ginger and garlic to the skillet and cook on low to medium heat until the vegetables are caramelized and the liquid has evaporated. Place mixture in a bowl and then in the refrigerator for about 1 hour, or until completely cool. 

In a medium bowl, combine venison, pancetta, salt, pepper, thyme leaves, rosemary, mustard, red pepper flakes, cumin, and parsley. Chill for an hour. 

Meanwhile, in a large skillet add olive oil and heat to medium-high heat. Peel and slice remaining onion. Half and remove seeds and stem from peppers and cut into strips. Add onion and peppers to the skillet and cook until caramelized, about 8 to 10 minutes. Set aside. 

Remove onion mixture and venison from the refrigerator and combine together. Feed ingredients through a meat grinder with the medium dye attachment. If the meat looks a little too wet and isn’t coming together nicely when forming meatballs, add the breadcrumbs. Once you have the texture you like, form 2 ounce balls from the meat mixture, handling the meat as little as possible. If the meat gets too warm, chill meatballs on a cookie sheet for about 30 minutes before frying. 

In a cast-iron skillet, heat 1 teaspoon of olive oil until hot, but not smoking. Brown meatballs in batches. Cook until done all the way through and browned on all sides, about 7 minutes. Remove cooked meatballs to a plate. 

In a medium bowl, add all horseradish mayo ingredients and whisk until smooth and well combined. Set aside. 

Slice the hot dog bun ¾ of the way through lengthwise. Spread 1 ounce of goat cheese on both sides of the bun as this will keep the bun from getting soggy. Spoon pepper and onion mixture onto one side of the bun. Place 3 meatballs on top of the goat cheese and pepper mixture. Repeat with remaining rolls. 

Drizzle horseradish mayo over the meatballs, then sprinkle jalapeno peppers over the mayo. Serve with homemade fries or good potato chips.

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