Delaney Mes is a food writer and blogger.

Delaney Mes recipes: Game for anything

Baked venison meatballs. Photo / Greg Bowker
Baked venison meatballs. Photo / Greg Bowker

Venison is one of those meats I enjoy cooking, and always enjoy eating, but often forget about or don't think to buy. With the colder months approaching however, it's a great way to get some lean protein into your diet.

It works well slow-cooked - think a sumptuous red wine and venison pie for the colder nights, but as this stir-fry shows, it's also great just flash-fried quickly as it remains moist and full of flavour.

Venison mince is a great alternative to beef, lamb, or pork for meatballs. A lovely richness comes through, and this dish is a simple way to get dinner on the table midweek. Just a little bit of prep time for the meatballs themselves, then leave them in the oven until you're ready to serve - the thick tomato sauce gets only better with time. I like to serve meatballs with mash, but also pearl barley, baguette, spaghetti, or zucchini noodles would work well. Otherwise just a pile of sauteed green vegetables keeps things fresh.

Trying to come up with something new and interesting to cook for dinner can be a struggle, so it's always good to be reminded of something a bit different and to try something new (or just forgotten).

Baked Venison meatballs

Serves 4-5

500g venison mince
1 onion, finely chopped
1 tsp fennel seeds
Pinch dried thyme
Pinch chilli flakes
1 egg
Sea salt and cracked black pepper
¾ cup breadcrumbs
2 x 330g tins whole or chopped tomatoes

Preheat oven to 180C.

In a bowl, combine the venison, onion, fennel seeds, thyme, chilli flakes, egg, and breadcrumbs. Season well with salt and pepper. With clean hands, mix together until well combined.

Roll into balls about the size of golf balls. Heat a little oil in a large frying pan, and working in batches, cook the meatballs for about 5-7 minutes so that you get a crisp, brown edge. Set aside, and continue in batches until all the meatballs are browned.

Place all the meatballs in a roasting tray (or a large cast iron frying pan) then pour over the tins of tomatoes. Season well and place in the oven for 25-35 minutes, until the sauce has thickened.

Serve with mash or spaghetti, and garnish with parsley and lemon zest and parmesan.

Venison stir-fry with cashews and coriander

Venison stir-fry with cashews and coriander. Photo / Greg Bowker
Venison stir-fry with cashews and coriander. Photo / Greg Bowker

Serves 3

500g diced venison, cut into strips
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp sesame oil, plus extra for cooking
1 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 red chilli, deseeded and sliced
1 head broccolli, cut into florets and chunks
2 spring onions, thinly sliced
Small bunch fresh coriander, roughly chopped
2 Tbsp cashews, roughly chopped
1 tsp black sesame seeds

Cut the venison into strips. In a medium bowl, combine the soy sauce, sesame oil, vinegar, and garlic. Whisk together, then add the venison, and leave to marinade for about 20 minutes.

When ready to cook, heat a small drizzle of sesame oil in a frying pan, to medium-high heat. Rinse the broccolli and cook with the spring onion and chilli for about 1-2 minutes, then set aside.

Depending on the size of your frying pan, you may need to cook the venison in batches. Cook the venison about 3-4 minutes, tossing with tongs as you cook. You want a slightly crisp edge and soft in the middle. Return all the venison and the broccolli mix to the pan and toss together, heating through for about a minute.

Dish into serving bowls and garnish with cashews and sesame seeds.

- Spy.co.nz

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