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Meatballs with Rosemary Garlic Red Wine Sauce over Cheesy Polenta

It seems every family has their rendition of a heritage meatball recipe. Heck, if you ask anyone in any country around the world, they would tell you that their family has “the best” tried and true meatball recipe.

My favorite all-purpose meatball made of venison and pork is perfect with wine sauce over polenta!! Love! gameandgarden.com

My favorite all-purpose meatball made of venison and pork is perfect with wine sauce over polenta!! Love! gameandgarden.com

The one ingredient that everyone can agree is that a meatball must have meat…or fish, yes, fish, shrimp, and even anchovies and salted herron.

In America, we are privileged with the right to hunt whitetail deer which, to me, create the best meatballs known to exist. Even those that don’t hunt often order farm raised venison to make exceptional meatballs.

Venison has an earthy flavor perfect for the permeation of simple seasonings such as garlic, rosemary, and parsley. Pork is added to this recipe to add a bit more flavor and fat for the ideal rich, moist meatball possible.

Venison has an earthy flavor perfect for the permeation of simple seasonings such as garlic, rosemary, and parsley. Pork is added to this recipe to add a bit more flavor and fat for the ideal rich, moist meatball possible.

While these meatballs are delicious over polenta or grits, they work beautifully served over rice, potatoes, and pasta. They are sensational stuffed in a crusty baguette for a left-over lunch.

Meatballs with Wine Sauce over Polenta is one fantastic comfort food! They are amazing and simple to make!! gameandgarden.com

Meatballs with Wine Sauce over Polenta is one fantastic comfort food! They are amazing and simple to make!! gameandgarden.com

Meatballs with Rosemary Garlic Red Wine Sauce over Cheesy Polenta

6 cups day-old bread, cut into 1/4” cubes
1/2 cup milk
2 large onions, peeled and quartered
2 sprigs rosemary
olive oil, for sautéing
1 pound ground venison
1 pound ground pork
6 eggs, beaten
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 1/2 freshly grated parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon Kosher salt, plus more as needed
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup chopped Italian parsley, plus more for plating

For the Sauce

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 large onions, roughly chopped
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
10 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 cups dry red wine
1 quart whole peeled tomatoes (I crush them by hand)

2 tablespoons red pepper flakes

Polenta

Quick-cook polenta or grits
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 cup parmesan cheese

In a shallow pan, soak the bread in the milk for 2 minutes. Squeeze the bread to remove excess moisture and place the bread in a large bowl.

In a food processor, pulse the peeled onions and rosemary leaves then place them into a large frying pan over medium heat. Add a drizzle of olive oil and allow the liquid to evaporate from the mixture for about 20 minutes or until the onion mixture is lightly caramelized.

Meanwhile, add the venison, pork, eggs, garlic, cheese, salt, pepper, and parsley to the bread. Once the onions are caramelized, add them to the meat mixture and lightly mix all the ingredients until incorporated. Divide into 18 equal sized meatballs a little larger than a golf ball.

In a large heavy-bottomed skillet, heat oil over medium heat until almost smoking. Add the meatballs, in batches to avoid overcrowding the pan, and cook until brown on all sides for about 10 minutes. Remove cooked meatballs to a plate.

For the sauce, drizzle olive oil into the same skillet used to make the meatballs. Add the onions and garlic to the pan and cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes. Add the balsamic vinegar, wine, tomatoes, and red pepper flakes to the skillet and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to simmer for about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook the polenta according to the packet instructions until you have a creamy consistency, adding the butter and grating of Parmesan at the end.

Gently toss the meatballs through the sauce and serve over the polenta. Scatter a few extra parsley leaves over the dish along with an extra sprinkling of parmesan cheese, if you like.

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