There are few things that make the house smell as inviting as a venison meatloaf. Sure there are countless sweet things that are baked with cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and don’t forget pumpkin. But when a deerslayer walks in the front door after a hard day at work, venison meatloaf with goat cheese is what makes me a popular member of the family. Ground venison is an easy way to ease into wild game cooking. I actually prefer ground venison or elk to ground beef. There is virtually no fat to skim off. It’s a delicious, healthy choice for anything that can be made with ground meat; tacos, lasagna, etc.
All of the less desirable cuts of meat are perfect for ground meat; neck meat, fore quarters (front leg), shank (meat from between the knee and ankle), flank (meat along the abdominal wall) and other small scraps of meat. I’ve always enjoyed knowing that my family is able to benefit from every part of the animal.
1 lb. ground venison (or elk, or nilgai)
2 medium carrots, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1/2 onion, chopped
3/4 cup spaghetti sauce plus 1/2 cup more (any brand is fine, no chunks)*
1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
several oz. goat cheese
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a food processor, finely chop carrots, celery, and onion. In a large bowl, add veggies to venison. Add 3/4 cup spaghetti sauce and remaining ingredients (except goat cheese) to mixture. Press half of the mixture into a regular loaf pan.
Add a layer of goat cheese by crumbling it over the surface of the meat. There are many excellent varieties of goat cheese available. My favorites are sun-dried tomato, garlic and herb, and vietnamese chile. I purchase my goat cheese from El Camino de Las Cabras. You can order from their website at: www.elcaminodelascabras.com. Candace Conn runs the place and is always coming up with wonderful new flavors! Add the remaining meat and press into the loaf pan. Invert the loaf pan onto a foil lined baking sheet by laying the baking sheet on top of the loaf pan and carefully flipping the entire contraption over. This will require some finesse but, hey, you’re a deerslayer’s wife! You can do anything! Sometimes, the meatloaf creates a bit of a suction that can be easily released by inserting the edge of spatula at the side of the loaf. After the beautifully layered venison meatloaf is ready to go into the oven, pour the remaining 1/2 cup of spaghetti sauce over the top. Bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour. Let rest for 10-15 minutes before cutting into it. It’ll make the house smell great!
* Venison has virtually no fat but lots of water in it. Because of this, it is important to moniter the amount of fluid that goes into the meatloaf, even in the form of chunky tomaoes that are found in many sauces. So don’t expect the meatloaf to be the same texture as beef. This recipe is pretty versatile and VERY healthy. It’s just about 50% veggies. And every deerslayer loves it.
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I can vouch for this one, too. Now I’m hungry…