I rarely buy ready-made anything but my son introduced me to Waitrose’s venison burgers, which are great for a quick and tasty supper. So when I saw some venison meatballs on special offer in Waitrose a couple of days ago, I couldn’t resist trying them. They’re pretty much pure venison – 90% – and although it’s not my reason for buying them, venison is said to be one of the healthier meats we can eat – a good source of protein, rich in B vitamins and low in fat. It is also wonderfully tasty! I’ve been cooking it on and off for years, usually as a rich stew in the winter. But the burgers and meatballs allow for something lighter.
Having got them home, I was left wondering about the best way to cook them. Somehow my usual tomato sauce for meatballs didn’t seem right. So I decided to cook them in a mushroom and madeira sauce with a little crème fraîche. Then I had to decide what to serve them with and at first thought rice would be good. But in the end I settled on some tagliatelle.
I wasn’t too sure how many servings I’d get from my 300g of meatballs, but it didn’t matter; I was expecting to eat alone and knew I’d certainly have one portion to freeze and maybe two.
At 4.00pm my phone rang. It was my son Jonathan. What time was I expecting them for supper? Mmm. Somewhere along the line there had been some confusion. I wasn’t expecting them, I said, but would love to see them and was sure I could stretch my meatballs to feed 3 adults and Freddie – only 3¾ but with a large appetite. And sure enough, we all had plenty. I served the meal with a large salad. And first we nibbled on a French baguette from Paul Bakery, taralli, hummus and olives. There was Grom gelato in the freezer for dessert.
Venison Meatballs with Mushroom & Madeira Sauce – Serves 4
- 300g venison meatballs
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2-3 shallots, finely chopped
- 150g chestnut mushrooms, sliced
- 1 dessertspoon plain flour
- 250ml light chicken stock, hot
- 4 tablespoons Madeira
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 heaped dessertspoon crème fraîche
- 2 tablespoons roughly chopped parsley
- 250g tagliatelle
- a little Parmeson (optional)
Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan (with a lid), tip the meatballs in, and brown nicely over a medium heat (about 5 minutes).
Lift the meatballs out with a slotted spoon and transfer to a plate. Add the chopped shallots (mine were quite big so I used 2 but depending on size, maybe use 3) and soften a little, then add the sliced mushrooms.
Cook until the shallots and mushrooms are nicely coloured and cooked through. Now sprinkle over the plain flour. Stir well to mix in. (This is to thicken the sauce a little.)
Slowly pour in the hot stock (I had some homemade in the freezer; I always freeze in small portions for this kind of recipe or a risotto), stirring well to mix in and hopefully avoid lumps! Allow it all to bubble for a couple of minutes. Now add the Madeira. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
Tip the browned meatballs back into the sauce. Stir to mix. Now put on the lid and cook gently for 10 minutes.
Spoon on the crème fraîche and add the parsley.
Mix well together. Check seasoning. Now it’s ready!
Cook the tagliatelle according to packet instructions (about 4 minutes). Drain and tip into the sauce.
Mix carefully, folding over to coat all the pasta with the sauce. Serve on to warm dishes. We grated over just a little Parmesan.
They were really good; delicious. It was a great meal. I find venison very tender and it certainly makes a wonderful change from the usual meatball meats.