Venison can be really tough sometimes. (Some parts of a deer get a lot of exercise. ;) Venison is also very lean. This combination makes for great braising, but I don’t always want to make tough cuts of meat into stew or to cook them in the slow cooker.
Grinding meat or chopping it very finely is another effective way to deal with the tough bits. Meat broken down into tiny pieces is instantly tenderized and, where you have ground meat, you have an opportunity for meatloaf.
I used a venison shoulder roast for this dish, deboned and very finely chopped in my food processor. Bacon adds both flavour and some much needed fat to the recipe. The combination works very well.
To make Venison Meatloaf, you’ll need:
- 1-1/2 pounds boneless venison shoulder roast
- 1/2 pound bacon
- 1-1/2 cup finely chopped onion
- 3/4 cup finely chopped celery
- 3/4 cup finely chopped bell pepper (I used frozen)
- 2 eggs
- 2 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 2 cloves of garlic, finely minced (I didn’t have fresh garlic so I used 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder)
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon (or more) dry mustard
- 1 to 1-1/2 cups fresh bread crumbs
- Equal quantities of chili sauce (I used Heinz, with the seeds strained out) and peach jam (I used a cup of each which gave me some left over.)
Grind both the venison and the bacon, or chop them very finely in a food processor.
Place the meat in a large bowl and add in the onion, celery, bell peper, eggs, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, salt, pepper, dry mustard, and about a cup of bread crumbs. Mix them together then check the consistency. If the mixture is too loose, add in more crumbs. I ended up using the full cup and a half.
Form the meat into a loaf on the baking sheet. If you have parchment paper to line the sheet with, it’ll save you some clean up. I didn’t this time so I was really grateful it was my husband’s turn to do the dishes.
Bake the meatloaf on the middle rack of a 350˚F oven for 45 minutes. While the meatloaf is baking, put the chili sauce and jam in a small bowl and mix them until the jam loosens up and the two are well combined.
Remove the meatloaf from the oven. It should look something like this:
Spoon the chili-jam sauce generously over the top of the loaf. If you made as much sauce as I did, you'll have some left over. Save it in the fridge. It keeps well and it's absolutely delicious on baked chicken or pork.
Return the meatloaf to the oven and bake it for another half hour. When it’s finished cooking, it should look something like this:
Did I mention that I was really glad it was my husband's turn to do the dishes?
Let the meatloaf rest for a few minutes before serving it. It’s good both hot and cold and it makes delicious sandwiches. Try serving it on a crusty bun, topped with carrot, raisin, and apple salad.