“I make the most amazing meatloaf.” Nobody has ever said that. Not in the history of ground meat. I looked it up on Wikipedia, it must be true. It’s a loaf of meat. The potential for “amazing” is not allowed for anything using the phrase “loaf” in it’s name. Meatloaf is a good, solid dinner, meant to be had with some tasty sides. And for leftovers, well, you have magic when you combine a loaf of bread with a loaf of meat.
Ok, so you know where I stand on meatloaf. I like it! I do! But I’d prefer some fried backstraps. But when it comes down to it, if you killed a deer, you will have some ground meat. Even if you kept all the roasts whole when you processed your deer, your going to have at LEAST 10 to twenty pounds of ground. And some of that will get used for sausage, but in the end, there will come a time where you just have some plain ground venison to use. Well, here’s a venison meatloaf you’ll enjoy using it in.
One of the reasons venison is so good for you is its leanness. That same leanness is one of the reasons it can make a meatloaf taste like you made it with cardboard. The key to make it moist is to use some binders, like egg and breadcrumbs, but with venison, I like to take it to the next level and to stuff it a filling that also adds much needed moisture and fat content.
- 2 pounds of ground venison
- 3 medium onions, sliced
- 2 ¾ cups of venison stock (or beef)
- ¾ cup of red wine
- 2 eggs
- ½ cup of bread crumbs (I like to use panko bread crumbs)
- 1 cup of shredded mozzarella
- 2 tablespoons of corn starch
- 1 tablespoon of sugar
- salt and pepper
- parsley and thyme
- olive oil
We’ll start by caramelizing the onions. Heat the oil in a skillet on medium heat. Add the onions and salt and pepper to taste. Sauté them for about 15 minutes , stirring frequently, or until they are nice and caramelized. Sprinkle in some dried thyme, and add about a ¼ of the stock, and ¼ cup of the wine. Cook it for a few more minutes until there is little fluid left.
Preheat the oven to 350°.
In a mixing bowl, combine the venison, the bread crumbs and the eggs, and some salt and pepper. Mix by hand until well blended, but don’t over do it.
Spread the meat mixture out on a piece of wax paper to form a 10″x12″ rectangle.
Set aside ½ cup each of the cheese and the onions. That will be used for topping the loaf later on. Spread the rest of the cheese and the onions over the meat mat. Use the waxed paper to lift and roll it up into a log, starting at the shorter side. This will be more like a filled hollow log than a swiss cake roll. You don’t have to crimp the ends. Some of the filling may ooze out as it cooks, but this will make sure even those end pieces get some filling.
Place the log seam side down in a lightly greased baking pan, and bake for about 40 minutes.
At about 25 to 30 minutes, combine the remaining stock and red wine in a small sauce pan. Whisk in the corn starch and the sugar. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Continue to simmer until the sauce thickens. Add salt and pepper to taste – it’s not the most amazing sauce on its own, but it does wonders for the meatloaf!
At 40 minutes, pour the sauce over the meatloaf. Spread the remaining onions over the top, and then top with the rest of the cheese, and a sprinkling of parsley. Return to the oven for another 15 minutes, or until the center hits about 150°. This is venison – if you let it get much hotter than that, it will dry up, even with all the filling and toppings. It will continue to cook in the next step and as you let it set at the end.
Place under the broiler for a few minutes to brown the cheese.
Remove from the oven and let it sit for about 10 minutes – then slice and serve. That’s as close to “amazing” as a meatloaf can get!
This loaf makes some great sandwiches as well – take some ½” slices, and quickly fry them on each side on high heat to brown the outside and warm the middle – serve on your choice of toasted bread with mayo, and a slice of provolone.