With another near record deer harvest almost in the books, families around the state are enjoying tasty and healthful venison dishes.
Meatloaf isn’t the first dish that comes to mind when a venison feast is on the menu. It’s a good recipe to add to a cook’s list along with venison burgers, deer chili and tacos.
Chili and meatloaf share common ground in the kitchen. There are a zillion ways to make either dish. Ground venison can be substituted in any recipe that calls for ground beef.
When the stars align and we manage to bring home the venison from Camp See No Deer, one of the first meals we fix is meatloaf, pulled hot from the oven with a wonderful aroma. In the world of wintertime dishes, meatloaf is a favorite, easy to fix and sure to please a family or a gang of hungry hunters.
At Camp See No Deer, we’ve used a simple and delicious meatloaf recipe for years. Recipes are made to be tinkered with, so experimenting is the norm. Sometimes we’ll use ground venison but might add ground beef, pork or turkey. This brings a new taste to the same recipe.
We almost never make the same meatloaf twice because so many seasonings work well in a venison meatloaf. There are dozens of burger seasonings on store shelves and all are worth a try. Add a packet of store-bought meatloaf seasoning or your favorite barbecue rub if the urge strikes.
This basic Camp See No Deer meatloaf is fine on its own. Here’s the recipe:
Put about 1.5 pounds of ground venison, beef or turkey into a large bowl. Add one egg, a handful or two of chopped onion, one cup of bread crumbs and one cup milk. Salt and pepper to taste. Mix all the ingredients well and form a loaf inside a 9-by-13 baking pan or other suitable pan. Line the pan with foil for easy cleanup.
For the topping, put two tablespoons yellow mustard, two tablespoons brown sugar and one-third cup ketchup to a small bowl and stir well. Pour over the meatloaf. Bake uncovered at 350 for one hour.
Here are some tweaking tips. Instead of one-third cup ketchup only, try half barbecue sauce and half ketchup. Try brown mustard instead of yellow, or a combination.
We don’t put much of a dent in the deer population at Camp See No Deer, so stretching the venison supply in the freezer is a good idea. Using half ground venison and half ground beef makes a delicious meatloaf. Ground pork is good too. Of course, ground beef or turkey can be used if there’s no venison.
Last week we got a wild hair and thought we’d try half ground venison and half Italian sausage. That meatloaf turned out fair, but not great. The Italian sausage taste overpowered everything, at least when we first took the meatloaf out of the oven for that night’s dinner.
Funny, though. It tasted much better after it sat in the ‘fridge for a couple of days. That will likely be our last go-around with Italian sausage in our meatloaf.
There are still a couple of weeks left of archery deer season, still time to bring home the venison. Try thinking outside the chili and taco box and try a venison meatloaf this winter.
Flip Putthoff can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter@nwadg.com
Sports on 02/07/2017