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SWEET AND SPICY CHINESE STYLE VENISON MEATBALLS

Updated: May 10

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These are absolutely the best venison meatballs that I look forward to making all make all year long. And why's that you ask? First, it's because they are made with wild game meat. The second reason is that these are packed with way more flavor than your average meat sphere.


Venison Meatball Recipe
Photo by Larry White

While the tomato sauce based Italian style venison meatballs with spaghetti and creamy venison Swedish meatballs are in fact very delicious, I need something with a little more zing in the flavor department sometimes. These Chinese-style flavorful meatballs pack a little extra flavor somewhere in the realm of a mild sausage. 


This recipe is influenced by the "lion's head" meatball, which is an oversized Asian-style meatball that originated in Shanghai. They get their unique name from "you guessed it", their size.

They were originally made with ground pork containing a high-fat content, but instead made these with a venison and pork meat mixture. While you could use straight venison, in my opinion, this lean meat is too prone to drying out if used on its own. Venison doesn't contain anywhere near the fat content of ground beef.





WHY DO MEATBALLS USE A BINDING AGENT? AND WHAT IS IT?

A binding agent is essentially that "glue" that holds everything together. Depending on what type of binding agent you use, it can also be there as a way to absorb some of the cooking liquid to enhance your chance of having a juicy meatball. It's also there as a way to add flavor by way of liquid. If you were to add too much liquid seasoning (soy sauce, marinara sauce, milk) without the binder, the meat mixture could become too moist and fall apart. 


For this recipe, I'm using standard bread crumbs, although you could use panko or homemade bread crumbs from crustless dried bread. You will find other recipes from other parts of the world using different binders in different ratios in order to change the texture of the meat. If you need to replace the breadcrumbs, a great way is to use cooked rice like I did for this shrimp and wild boar sausage.



USING A DIFFERENT MEAT?

While this is one of my favorite venison recipes, you can absolutely use a different ground meat for this recipe. Wild boar, ground beef, and skinless waterfowl meat work as well. Just keep in mind that the fat content changes depending on the meat that you use. So whether you're grinding your meat, taking it to the processor, or buying it from the grocery store, try and stick to a fat content of around 30% to 40%. The best fat to use in my opinion is pork fat. It has a clean flavor and won't change the flavor of your meatballs like beef tallow would do.



WANT TO MAKE EASY BAKED VENISON MEATBALLS? 

This recipe calls for cooking the meatballs on the stovetop. While they need to be started on the stovetop to sear them first, you can finish them by baking them in the oven. My favorite way is to first sear them in an oven-proof skillet, add the liquid, cover with a lid, and then finish them off in a 325 degree F oven for around 40 minutes. If you're nervous about overcooking them since they will be out of view, the best way is to check their internal temperature. Once they reach 150 degrees F, they are fully cooked. But don't worry if you go a little bit over that by a few degrees, they will still be tender meatballs.



SERVING SUGGESTIONS FOR HOMEMADE VENISON MEATBALLS

I like to think outside of the box when looking for other ways to serve the best meatballs to the whole family. The best part? It keeps them happy and it keeps me creative in the kitchen.


  • Bahn Mi Meatball Subs (add shredded carrots, fresh herbs, pickled daikon and mayo)

  • Eat the meatballs in a rice bowl or pasta bowl with rice noodles. Add stir-fried veggies and your favorite sauce.

  • Add them to soups like pho or ramen.

  • Crispy lettuce wraps (stuff them with pickled vegetables, toasted peanuts, fried onions and the sweet and spicy sauce listed below.




Looking For another delicious recipe Using Ground Deer Meat or Ground Wild Boar?


Lastly, if you think this is one of the best venison meatballs recipe you've had, leave me a comment and rating below! Also, tag me on Instagram with some of your creations. I thoroughly enjoy hearing feedback and checking out the photos of recipes that you've made.




 

EASY SWEET AND SPICY CHINESE STYLE VENISON MEATBALLS

Prep Time: 25 Minutes
Cook Time: 35 Minutes
Serving Size: Makes 14 Large Meatballs or 28 Small Meatballs
Author: Larry White

INGREDIENTS


For the Meatball Mixture

  • 2 1/2 pounds lean venison 

  • 1 pound of fatty pork shoulder 

  • 1 bunch of scallions, white and green parts thinly sliced

  • 1/4 cup fresh herbs, cilantro or fresh parsley 

  • 3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon dry white wine or Shaoxing wine

  • 3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon soy sauce

  • 3 tablespoons minced ginger

  • 3 tablespoons oyster sauce

  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil

  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper 

  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

  • 1/2 cup plain breadcrumbs

  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch

  • 3 large egg

  • 3/4 cup of water


Used For Cooking the Meatballs

  • olive oil (for searing the meatballs)

  • chicken, beef or venison stock (enough to cover the meatballs half way)


For the Glaze

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 tablespoon seeded and chopped spicy chili pepper, such as jalapeno or Thai chili

  • 5 cloves of garlic

  • 3/4 cup hoisin sauce

  • 1/3 cup light soy sauce

  • 3/4 cup water

  • 2 tablespoons honey

  • 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil

 

INSTRUCTIONS


For the Sweet and Spicy Glaze 

  1. Heat a small pot or saucepan over medium heat. Once the oil starts to shimmer, add the garlic and the chili pepper. Cook while stirring for 1 minute, making sure not to burn the garlic.

  2. Add the remaining ingredients to the pot and bring to a slow simmer. Cook the mixture until the liquid has reduced by around 1/3 of its volume. It should be around the consistency of maple syrup or a little thicker. Check for seasoning. If it's too spicy, add in a little extra honey or some sugar. If it's too thick, thin it out with a little water. Now it's time to make the meatballs in the next step.


Optional Grinding Meat At Home Instructions

  1. If you are not using meat that is already ground, it's easy to do in your home if you own a grinder. Cut the venison and pork into large chunks around 2 inches in size. Place the meat in the freezer for around 1 hour or until it is firm. Grind the venison and pork together using your large die for a coarse texture. Place the ground venison and pork mixture in the refrigerator until ready to use.



Meatball Forming Instructions

  1. To a large bowl, add all of the ingredients for the meatball mixture (except for the olive oil and stock). With your hands or a large spoon, stir the mixture vigorously until it is mixed thoroughly and is tacky to the touch. 

  2. Using your hands or a cookie scoop, form the They will naturally flatten a little due to their size and lack of breadcrumbs, which is fine.


Stovetop Cooking Instructions

  1. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add a little olive oil (roughly 1 to 2 tablespoons) to the pan. Once the oil starts to shimmer, add the meatballs to the pan. Cook the meatballs until they are nice and golden brown on all sides. 

  2. Add the stock to the pot. Cover with a lid, leaving it a little cracked for steam to escape. 

  3. Bring to a slow simmer and cook for 15 minutes. Flip the meatballs over and cook for another 15 minutes or until the meatballs have just cooked through. 


Oven Cooking instructions

  1. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F.

  2. Follow steps one and two above.

  3. Place the covered pan in the oven and cook for around 40 minutes. If you want to be really accurate, they are finished cooking when they reach an internal temperature of 150 degrees F.


Glazing Instructions

  1. Remove the meatballs from the pan and place them in a large mixing bowl. (Reserve the cooking liquid. It can be used to make soup or to thin out the glaze).

  2. Slowly pour in enough of the sauce to glaze the meat. Any remaining sauce can be used to pour over your final plated dish.

  3. Now enjoy your homemade meatballs!


Freezing Instructions

  1. The best way to freeze cooked meatballs is by letting them completely cool in the cooking liquid. After they have cooled completely, remove them from the cooking liquid and place them on a cookie sheet pan fitted with parchment paper. It doesn't matter if they are slightly touching. Next, transfer them to a freezer for around one hour, then put them in an airtight container or freezer bag. If properly stored, they will keep their freshness for around 3 months.

  2. To freeze uncooked meat balls. Like above, place them on a sheet pan fitted with parchment paper. Try to not let the meatballs touch as they will stick together. Place the pan in the freezer and freeze them until they are solid (around 2 to 3 hours). Transfer them to gallon-sized freezer bags and seal tightly.

 

HELPFUL PHOTOS AND INSTRUCTIONS FOR MIXING AND FORMING THE VENISON MEATBALLS


Venison Meatballs in oven
Add all of the ingredients for the meatballs to a mixing bowl.

Best sauce for venison meatballs
Mix all of the ingredients together with your hands or a wooden spoon until the meatball mixture is tacky to the touch.


venison meatballs easy
Form them using a cookie scoop, ice cream scoop or by hand. For less mess, place them all on a baking pan lined with parchment paper before rolling by hand. Let the mixture rest at room temperature for 10 minutes before forming.


Venison and pork meatballs
On the left is a traditional style meatball formed using a metal scoop. The one on the right is the size of a lion's head meatball formed by hand.

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Meet Larry White

Chef Larry White

Hey folks, I'm Larry. The recipes you'll find here are inspired by my years as a chef, travels as a hunter, and being a father. I cook from these experiences, so my food ranges anywhere from fun and creative to traditional and to what somewhat family style comfort food.     

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