This recipe makes a meal that goes down right the first, second times
Fall is the absolute best season in the Carolinas. It begins in September, lasts into December and brings some of the prettiest weather and nicest temperatures of the year. Sportsmen have multiple opportunities to fish or hunt and can even do both, with high expectations of success, in the same day.
Fall fishing is excellent, but deer seasons are open in both Carolinas, and there are many hunters who have been patiently waiting since January. In honor of these folks, this is going to be a recipe that uses venison.
If you have any ground venison remaining from the 2017 season, this is a good way to use it and make room for this year’s deer. If you’ve already enjoyed all of last year’s deer harvest, it also prepares well with freshly ground venison.
Meatloaf is a staple of most households. Some folks say it gets boring, and this is simply a way to give it a little more appeal. Venison has less fat than burger, so venison meatloaf fits the old saying of not only being good, but good for you too.
I like meatloaf, especially full-bodied and flavorful meatloaf, but my wife doesn’t. If I make it mild enough, she will eat one meal with me, but any leftovers are mine. Sometimes, I save her pain and make it from the start with chilies, peppers and fun seasonings (use your imagination). However, this is the mild version and should be suitable for anyone. Those of you with more robust palates can add some red pepper, ground jalapeno or chipotle and hot sauce to bring it to your standards.
Venison stew meatloaf
Regular readers have probably already asked themselves, “What is he up to now?” You know I’m not afraid to experiment and mix two things I like into a single dish. Sometimes it turns out well, and you get to read about it.
This is one of the times my ideas worked. I don’t remember exactly what brought me to combine stew and meatloaf, but it had to have been a flashes of brilliance while preparing hunting or fishing gear for the next adventure. While I like this and believe it tastes good enough on its own to merit serious consideration for a nice meal, there will be slices left over that can be used for sandwiches — and you can’t do that with stew.
You can browse through the freezer section at the supermarket and find everything except the chopped sweet onions. In fact, this is where the peas came in. I was looking for chopped carrots and found a package of mixed chopped carrots and peas. I like peas and thought, “Why not?” and tried them. I like it with peas, but it can be made without them.
There is a Liquid Smoke in this, and I’ll caution you to be careful with it; a little goes a long way. Some folks like its flavor; some don’t.
Another option for making this is to mix the ground venison with venison sausage. If your family and friends eat venison sausage, they’ll appreciate the flavor it will add to the meatloaf.
There are several reasons for lining the loaf pans. Cleanup comes to mind first, and it certainly helps there. It also helps lift the meatloaf out of the pan for cutting. I use a large enough piece of foil that once the loaf cools, I can wrap it or any leftovers for the fridge or freezing.
This recipe will make one regular meatloaf or two small ones. I package my venison burger in 2-pound packs and usually double this recipe to make a couple since mixing it is the only real effort. The extra freezes well and can be grabbed for a quick thaw and meal as needed. I especially like making meatloaf sandwiches and sliders. Hopefully you will enjoy it, too!
Some readers may remember a Southwest-flavored meatloaf recipe several years back that was cooked in a deep cast iron pan on the grill. This can be done that way too, but with sautéing the vegetables first and a few more mixing steps, it is easier to cook in the oven. In addition, the loaf pans are just right for slices for sandwiches and I like meatloaf sandwiches.
1 pound ground venison
1 small Vidalia onion
1/2 cup plain bread crumbs
11/4 cup frozen diced potatoes
11/4 cup frozen diced carrots and peas
1/2 pack brown gravy mix
5 drops Liquid Smoke
Salt and pepper (to taste)
1 splash cooking oil
Pam non-stick cooking spray
Chop the onion and sauté it lightly. Add diced potatoes, carrots and peas to onion and stir around a couple of minutes just to warm them. Beat the eggs. Mix the burger, eggs, vegetables, bread crumbs, and gravy packet. Add five drops Liquid Smoke, salt and pepper (to taste) and mix again.
Preheat oven to 350. Line the loaf pans with aluminum foil and spray the foil liberally with Pam. Put the mixture into loaf pans. Be sure to leave a half-inch or so at the rim of the pan. Cook the meatloaf approximately 45 to 55 minutes. The temperature in the middle should be 160 to 170 degrees. Remove meatloaf from heat and allow it to rest for 5 to 10 minutes.
Pour off any grease — there should be minimal or none depending on the fat blend in the venison. Serve.
Mashed potatoes or garlic mashed potatoes, with brown gravy, are the worldwide standard with meatloaf and will do well here, but there are already potatoes in the meatloaf. My suggestion is if you want more potatoes, to serve it with a baked sweet potato or mashed sweet potatoes. Green beans are a vegetable that isn’t in the mix and serve well with it. I’m always up for a fresh green salad and a salad or a lettuce wedge is a great way to begin.