Savory Sweet Venison Meatballs in an Apple Cider Cream Sauce
It’s fresh apple and deer season in New York State, so let’s combine the two into a delicious fall meal! The savory flavors of the meat, shallots, cayenne pepper, and garlic are complimented by the sweetness of the apple, cider, and cream. A perfect combination to serve over fresh noodles and you can add some red cabbage for color and a bit of texture.
Venison Meatballs with an Apple Cider Cream Sauce
- 1.5lb. ground venison
- .5 lb. ground pork
- 2 eggs
- ½ cup quick oats
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil (or butter)
- 2/3 cup finely chopped sweet onion (about ½ a Vidalia onion or 2 shallots)
- 1-2 cloves of garlic, finely minced
- 1 small or medium sized apple, peeled and chopped
- 1 minced cayenne pepper or 1/2 tsp. dried cayenne pepper
- 2-3 Tbsp. minced fresh herbs (sage, thyme, rosemary, and/or parsley) or 1 tsp. dried poultry seasoning or Italian mix
- 3/4 cup apple cider
- 1/2 cup light cream (half n’ half)
- 1.5 cups sliced red cabbage (optional)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 8 oz. cooked egg noodles
Add about 2 Tbsp. olive oil to skillet and heat over medium heat. Add onion, apple, garlic, herbs, and pepper and sauté gently for a few minutes to soften the onion and apple and release the flavors. Remove from heat.
In a medium sized bowl, combine the eggs and quick oat then mix in the meat. Season with black pepper and salt (about 1 tsp. salt and ½ tsp black pepper) and add in the sautéed onion, apple, and herb mix that is cooled slightly. (Do not rinse the skillet yet as it will be used to make a sauce and you’ll want the flavors to remain.) Mix well to combine all ingredients.
Form into meatballs. Meatballs can be cooked in a large skillet on the stove top over medium-high heat in the same large skillet used to sauté the onion and apple mixture, turning to brown on all sides and making sure cooked through (~12-15 minutes). About 12-16 meatballs can be cooked in a large skillet at a time. You may need to add a bit of olive oil or butter to the pan to prevent sticking. Additional meatballs can be placed on a baking tray and baked in a preheated oven to 375°F. for about 20 minutes until cooked through.
To make the sauce: Remove the meatballs from the skillet to a plate. Add ¾ cup of apple cider to the skillet and stir with a wooden spoon to scrap up any browned bits of meat and/or onions from the bottom of the pan. If using red cabbage, add it now and stir to combine. Let this simmer until reduced a bit, about 5-7 minutes. Lower heat to medium and add the cream, stirring quickly to combine and avoid clumping from the acidic cider. Add the meatballs back in and heat through. Taste and adjust seasonings to your preference. You can add the cooked egg noodles to the skillet and stir to coat in the sauce or place egg noodles on a plate and scoop 4 meatballs and sauce over each serving of noodles. Serves about 4, plus some leftover meatballs.