Pepperoni Stuffed Parmesan Elk Meatballs

Last night I got home rather late and debated whether I wanted to put the effort and time into making a “real” dinner for myself, as right now I am still cooking for one each night due to Joe’s work schedule during the winter season, but, I had a quick snack (almond butter and carrots are a new current fave!) and got to work, still managing to put dinner on the table at 7 pm on the dot. Inspired by this recipe from the Nevada Foodies,  http://www.nevadafoodies.com/pesto-mozzarella-stuffed-venison-meatballs/, I picked up some pepperoni on my way home from work and got stuffin’! This recipe would easily serve 4, especially with a salad on the side to go with. For us, we will have some tasty leftovers.

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 Pepperoni Stuffed Parmesan Elk Meatballs Yield- 21 meatballs, 1 inch diameter

  • 3/4 lbs ground elk burger
  • 3/4 lbs ground venison breakfast sausage
  • 1 tablespoon dry pesto
  • 1/2 cup wheat breadcrumbs
  • 1 egg white
  • 1/2 Tbsp. Worcestershire
  • 1/4 cup+ 2 Tbsp. Parmesan cheese, divided into (3) 2-Tbsp. portions
  • ~1/8 lb thick sliced pepperoni (approx. (5) 2-inch diameter slices)
  • 1/2 tsp. Garlic salt
  • 2 cups dry rotini pasta
  • 1 tsp. butter (optional)

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If making your own breadcrumbs, process in food processor until you have about 1/2 cup. I keep a few frozen bread heels and bread slices that were going stale in the freezer in a ziplock bag and them process them in chunks as needed for breadcrumbs.

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In a mixing bowl using a wooden spoon or your clean hands, combine ground burger and ground breakfast sausage with egg white, breadcrumbs, and Worcestershire.

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  Sprinkle in pesto and 2 Tbsp. of Parmesan cheese and mix into meat.

DSC01605 Cut pepperoni into bite-size pieces.

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Stuff each meatball with a piece of pepperoni.

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 Spray a baking dish (8×8 inch) with cooking spray & form meatballs. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.

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Meanwhile, boil water and cook pasta.

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Drain water and sprinkle pasta with garlic salt and the last 2 Tbsp. of Parmesan cheese and stir. Add in a tsp. of butter, if desired.

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Set aside and keep warm.
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 Pull meatballs from oven and sprinkle with another 2 Tbsp. Parmesan cheese.

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 Serve meatballs on top of pasta immediately.

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Jade, while eagerly helping me cook dinner in the kitchen, became very distracted by a barking dog on t.v. and ran over to check it out!

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Yup, there it is!

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Although the smell of the meatballs eventually brought her back to reality. Anyone else have a dog that checks out the t.v. dogs like this? I will say that while Jade will occasionally cock her head to the side at the t.v. when dogs bark or coyotes yip on the hunting channel,  this is the first time she has ever run to the t.v., and she is 11 years old!

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Making Your Own: Elk Summer Sausage + Antler Christmas Tree

I had never eaten summer sausage until five years ago while cooking for a packtrip, when my boss had thrown in some of his venison sausage for our guests to try. Since then I have really grown to like it, and it has become a staple snack in our house. A slice of sausage, chunk of hard cheddar cheese, or even better–salami cheese from Wisconsin thanks to friends Dave & Clare–and ritz cracker makes a great snack between meals or while out in the field.

Jalapeno Elk Summer Sausage

This year, Joe and his Dad made 55 lbs of jalapeno summer sausage with about 38 lbs of my elk using a Jalapeno Summer Sausage Seasoning kit from LEM, which is a meat processing equipment company. The kit, along with other cured seasoning, can be found on this page: http://www.lemproducts.com/product/4655/cured_seasonings.

The summer sausage was made by mixing approximately 70% elk to 30% pork. We use pork butts that we buy, trim, and grind ourselves. For 55 lbs. of sausage, we used roughly 38 lbs ground elk (70%) combined with 16 lbs of ground pork (30%). To the meat we added in the Japapeno Summer Sausage Seasoning kit, mustard seed, and an additional 2 cups of diced fresh jalapeno. The sausage is then smoked for 6 hrs. in a smoker until it reaches a temperature of 160 degrees Farenheit (test the temperature using a meat thermometer, and test more than one stick). We then vacuum-sealed the sausage in 3 lb. sticks and froze them to enjoy throughout the year. Once you open one stick, refrigerate and it will stay good for about 2-3 weeks or longer. FYI- When it starts to go south, it will lose its normal smell and possibly mold. If it does not do either of these, it is probably still ok to eat, even after 2 weeks.

DSC00969-1As I write this post, I am sitting next to our Christmas tree, which I am quite proud of if I must say so myself. While we do not have room in our house for an actual pine tree, we do have room for a huge pile of shed antlers that have been collected over the years. I have no idea how many deer and elk sheds are in the pile, but it makes quite a stack in our living room corner, and when re-arranged right, they make a beautiful Christmas tree! After surviving the Jenga-like experience of re-stacking them into tree shape, I decked the tines and lit it up! Merry Christmas!

Can’t-Stop-Eating-Them Wild Game Nachos

I enjoyed these elk nachos with a side salad–they are so addicting! The filling but (mostly)healthy meal is great way to use up ground meat when you are short on ideas and sick of burgers.

Wild Game Nachos

Serves 2, with leftovers (maybe)

  • 1/2 lb ground elk, venison, or antelope
  • 1/2 c diced yellow onion
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 jalapeno pepper, finely diced
  • 12 oz. (about 3/4 can) Vegetarian Refried Beans*
  • 1/4 c Medium-heat salsa
  • Season Salt
  • Chili Powder
  • 2 tsp. Taco Seasoning
  • 1/3 c shredded cheddar cheese

* I recently began using the Old El Paso Vegetarian variety as I realized they do not contain partially hydrogenated oils like the Traditional and Green Chili varieties, if you care about that sort of thing.

  1. Cook ground meat with onion, jalapeno, and garlic until meat is no longer pink. Season with season salt, taco seasoning, and chili powder to taste.
  2. Stir in refried beans and salsa to meat mixture and combine until smooth. Simmer on low heat another 1-2 minutes.

3. Lay out tortilla chips and top with nacho meat. Sprinkle with shredded cheddar cheese and microwave 15 seconds if you like your cheese melted. Top with salsa and start scooping!