Stroganoff of Smoked Venison Meatballs with Baby Bella Mushrooms

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Venison is a gamey meat that is leaner than beef. With half the fat of beef and equivalent protein content, venison is a nutritious supplement to a red meat-rich diet.

It is rich in vitamins and minerals, which results in a strong earthy flavor that some people dislike. Even the pickiest diners will be won over by these smoked venison meatballs served in a stroganoff with mushrooms and a tart, sour cream sauce.

We’ll also smoke the meatballs for 30 minutes with oak to give a depth of flavor that complements the rustic, old-world stroganoff.

What is venison?

Smoked Venison Meatball Stroganoff with Baby Bella Mushrooms

Butchers refer to deer flesh as venison. Because of the animal’s activity level throughout its life, venison remains leaner than beef.

A trimmed 3oz grilled piece has around 135 calories and 3 grams of fat. Only one gram of fat per ounce of meat.

In comparison, grilled 3oz of beef sirloin has 160 calories and 6 grams of fat. That’s double the amount of fat per ounce of beef.

I used New Zealand ground venison from Silver Fern Farms for this recipe, but you can easily obtain venison at your local butcher, or if you are a hunter, you may want to grind your own!

If you want to grind your own meat, aim for venison shoulder or chuck since they contain more marbling than the remainder of the animal.

The thinner sections of venison can be ground, but they tend to dry out rapidly during cooking, and because we’re also smoking them, it’s better to stay with fattier pieces.

The protein content of venison is 26 g per 3 oz, whereas sirloin is 24 g. It also contains minerals such as iron, vitamins B1 and B6, as well as niacin and riboflavin.

Venison is a wonderful protein choice for your meals since it is less expensive per pound than beef.

Prepare the meatballs

Smoked Venison Meatball Stroganoff with Baby Bella Mushrooms

Preheat your smoker to 200 degrees Fahrenheit. I’m using a Z Grills 700D4E with branded oak pellets.

Because venison is a lean meat, we’ll add some sauteed onions and garlic to the meat combination to keep it wet as it cooks.

Heat a cast iron skillet or a heavy-bottomed frying pan over medium-low heat. Chop one sweet onion and two garlic cloves finely. Stir in 1 tablespoon of oil and 1 tablespoon of butter until the butter is melted.

Cook until the onions and garlic are tender and transparent. Remove from the fire and set aside for 10 minutes to cool.

In a stainless steel, ceramic, or glass mixing bowl, combine 1 pound ground venison. Cooked onion and garlic, one small bunch of finely chopped dill, 1 tbsp wholegrain mustard, a cup of breadcrumbs, and one medium egg are all added. Finish with 1 tsp kosher salt and 1 tsp ground black pepper.

Gently combine the ingredients with your hands until thoroughly and evenly combined. Roll the mixture into balls of equal size.

Cook the venison meatballs

Heat 1 tbsp oil in the same pan you used for the onions and garlic over medium-high heat. Sear the meatballs on both sides until they produce a good crust.

Once all of the meatballs are seared, throw them on the smoker and let them alone for 30 minutes.

Cook the mushrooms

Cook the mushrooms while the meatballs are smoking. Melt 2 tbsp butter in another large frying pan over medium-high heat. To the frying pan, add 1 cup chopped baby bella mushrooms and a sprinkle of salt. Toss to evenly coat all of the mushrooms.

If you can’t obtain baby bella mushrooms, shiitake or white mushrooms may be substituted. Shiitake mushrooms are more tasty, although they are more expensive than normal white mushrooms.

Cook until all of the fluids in the pan have evaporated and the mushrooms are golden brown.

Make the sauce

Reduce the heat to medium and mix in 1 tbsp all-purpose flour and 1 tsp smoky paprika. Bring to a simmer with 2 cups beef stock. As the pan begins to boil, scrape away any stuck-on particles.

Set aside the mushrooms with a slotted spoon. Bring the liquid to a boil for 5 minutes before adding 1 tablespoon whole grain mustard, 2 tablespoons dijon mustard, 1 tablespoon tomato puree, and 1 cup sour cream.

Stir everything together and cook until the sauce thickens and coats the back of a spoon. Approximately 20 minutes.

Cook the noodles

Cook half a pound of tagliatelle pasta according to package directions (8 oz uncooked) while the sauce simmers. While the sauce cooks, drain the noodles and put them aside.

Bring it all together

Place the meatballs and mushrooms in the sauce that is cooking. Make sure the meatballs are completely cooked at a temperature of at least 160F. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

If you prefer a sweeter sauce rather a sour one, add a sprinkle or two of sugar.

Cover the noodles in a pasta dish with the stroganoff. Garnish with chopped dill and serve immediately.

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