October 6th, 2009


Venison and Smoked Pancetta Meatballs with Curly Kale and Parsnip Mash; Red Onion Gravy

Autumn is well and truly upon us and it’s time to indulge in the hearty and homely dishes that makes this season that little bit more interesting.The Game season has begun and I was delighted to find venison and partridge at the Aldeburgh food festival last week. I bought a packet of venison mince for a quick and hearty mid-week supper later in the week.

The dish met all expectations and will easily make you forgive and forget of all the evils and nastiest that a gruelling day has thrown at you. Tuesday evening was time for a glass of red wine and an appointment with the packet of minced venison from the weekend.

As venison is very lean it can be fairly dry and therefore I wrapped the meatballs in smoked streaky pancetta or smoked streaky bacon would have been just as good. I made a deliciously tangy sweet red onion gravy with a glass of the red wine and enriched it with a big spoonful of redcurrant jelly. It’s times like these that I’m grateful for going that extra mile over the weekend to make a big batch of white chicken stock and keep it in the freezer, it’s handy and made our dinner that little bit extra special.

The East Anglia parsnips and curly kale that has been in the fridge for more than a week finally made it into a dish, phew….I was pleased as I’m seriously trying to cut down on our food waste. The parsnips made a lovely creamy mash and I blanched the curly kale in rapid boiling salted water until tender and once the mash was ready I folded in the blanched curly kale  with a large knob of unsalted butter.

The rich venison, smoked pancetta, tangy-sweet gravy and creamy parsnip mash is the perfect food paring ingredients.

These meatballs could be made  smaller by wrapping them in half a slice of pancetta and skewered to make a brilliant little canapé for a drinks party.


Venison Meatballs

  • 200g venison
  • 2tbs chopped mixed thyme, oregano and parsley
  • ½ free range egg
  • 1 slice of white bread crust removed and broken into small pieces
  • 2tbs milk
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp Worcester sauce
  • Salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • 6 slices of smoked pancetta or smoked streaky bacon
  • 1tbs sunflower oil

Preheat the oven to 200°C.

Soak the crumbed bread in the milk.

In a large mixing bowl mix the minced venison, soaked bread and milk, egg, ground coriander, chopped mixed herbs and a seasoning.

Make even size meatballs and wrap one slice on pancetta around each ball, I formed them slightly oblong so that they cook evenly.

Heat a large non-stick frying pan with a tablespoon of sunflower oil, brown the balls evenly all over, transfer them to a lined baking tray and roast the balls in the preheated oven for 12 minutes.

Let them rest for 4 minutes before serving on a heaped spoonful of the parsnip and curly kale mash and a generous amount of the red onion gravy. I serve this dish in a bowl plate so that I can have a generous helping of sauce.

Parsnip and Curly Kale Mash

  • 300g parsnips, peeled cored and sliced finely
  • 30g unsalted butter
  • 20g double cream
  • 50g curly kale
  • Salt and freshly cracked black pepper

Place the peeled and sliced parsnips in a large saucepan covered with cold water and seasoning, bring to the boil and cook until the parsnips are tender.

Whilst the parsnips are boiling blanch the curly kale in salted boiling water until tender, drain once.

Drain the parsnips and push them through a ricer,add the butter, cream and blanched curly kale, taste and adjust the seasoning if needed. Keep the mash warm until the meatballs and gravy is ready to serve.

Red Onion Gravy

  • 1 large red onion peeled and finely sliced
  • 30 g unsalted butter + 1tbs extra butter
  • 125ml red wine
  • 75g redcurrant jelly
  • 300ml white chicken stock
  • Salt and freshly cracked black pepper

Heat a medium saucepan with the butter, once the butter starts to foam add the onions and saute with seasoning until they start to turn golden brown.

Add the redcurrant jelly and cook for a few minutes until the redcurrant jelly has dissolved and become liquid.

De-glaze the pan with the red wine and simmer for 5 minutes over low heat or until the red wine has reduced and become sticky around the onions.

Add the stock and bring the gravy to the boil, reduce the heat to a gentle simmer and cook the gravy until the right consistency, check the seasoning and just before your ready to serve the gravy add the remaining tablespoon of butter and stir it in quickly to give your gravy a lovely gloss.

Serve immediately with the meatballs and parsnip and curly kale mash.

Serves 2

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8 Comments to “Venison and Smoked Pancetta Meatballs with Curly Kale and Parsnip Mash; Red Onion Gravy”

  1. Chris Smith says:

    Did this for the extended family last night – they all went away with your website address! Swapped the breadcrumbs for red wine risotto as coeliacs in family – worked just fine.

    Thanks for another classic even if it took me 2 years to get to it

  2. Just happen to have some venison meatballs and parsnips in the fridge. Guess what we’re having for dinner tonight!

  3. I made this last Friday – very good. The parsnip mash worked perfectly with the venison. Matt

  4. [...] It has been a lazy weekend for me. After the excitement and travel of last week I found my creativity needed washing and ironing, leaving me naked for a couple of days. And cooking whilst naked, creatively or otherwise, is never a good idea. So I fished around for an easy recipe and found it on The British Larder. [...]

  5. Eva says:

    Just discovered this site, love it! This sounds like the perfect diner dish for tonight! Thanks for the great inspiration!

  6. I just have to try this – my sort of soul food! Will post inc link when done.

  7. dean ryan says:

    going to put on menu for next week if i can get a good price on venison cheers hope to see you friday

  8. James says:

    Venison and pancetta canapes sound too good.

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