Meatballs: So hot right now

Venison flavoured with ginger and orange makes these meatballs special.
Venison flavoured with ginger and orange makes these meatballs special.

Last year I was pleased to receive today's farm-raised venison meatball recipe from my mate Innes Moffat, who works at Deer Industry NZ.

The recipe is courtesy of nutritionist and food writer Maria Middlestead, who entered it in a competition Innes ran. He knew I would find it handy for catering.

The humble meatball never really went out of fashion, but I have noticed in my travels that not-so-humble meatballs are really hot again. So when Innes came with his colleagues to party at our house, they cooked their own lunch with a little help and I insisted that Innes was in charge of meatballs.

These are quite special meatballs. Aim for the outside of them to be well-browned to enhance flavour and texture. Expect citrus and ginger flavours but with a very savoury taste. Note that they are gluten-free and low-fat. Offer with drinks but, better still, as a meal with a salad such as today's bean salad.

Innes' whole team did a splendid job and, although venison was the star of the menu, they were also prepared to tackle (and eat) scampi, asparagus, scallops, eggplant and raspberry Jelly Tip Pavlova Roll (which we featured on this page a few weeks back). Please don't tell Maria about the pav roll.


Makes 32 cocktail serves

Farm-raised venison mince is available at supermarkets under the Silver Fern Farms label. I prefer it over any other red-meat mince because it is very low in fat. Ginger in syrup is sold in jars and available at speciality food stores and some supermarkets.


2 spring onions (white part and some green), chopped

Coarsely grated zest of 1 orange

500g farm-raised venison mince

45g ( 1/2 cup) dry breadcrumbs

1 egg, lightly beaten

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

50g (1/4 cup) ginger in syrup, finely diced

1 tsp flaky sea salt

15ml (1 Tbsp) olive oil

Orange Glaze

Place 2 teaspoons of chopped spring onion and 1 teaspoon of orange peel into a small bowl. Cover and reserve for garnish.

Into a second bowl, place venison, breadcrumbs, egg, remaining spring onions, garlic, ginger, remaining peel and salt. Mix well with your hands to combine.

Working with about a tablespoon of mixture at a time, form mince into 32 3cm balls.

Leave in refrigerator overnight, or proceed to cook.

Place oil into a heavy-based frypan set over a medium heat. When oil is hot, add half the meatballs, or so that they are in one layer with space between each. Brown on all sides for 2-3 minutes.

Put on a warm plate and cover with a heavy tea towel. (Meatballs will be cooked further in the glaze.)

Brown remaining meatballs in the same way. Return all browned meatballs to frypan.

Pour Orange Glaze over meatballs and stir to thoroughly coat. Reduce heat to low. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5-7 minutes or until meatballs are cooked and glaze is glossy.

Skewer and serve hot, sprinkled with reserved garnish.



100ml (1/3 cup + 1 Tbsp) freshly squeezed orange juice

65ml (1/4 cup) marmalade (if chunky, cut finely)

30ml (2 Tbsp) tamari soy sauce

1 tsp maize cornflour mixed with 2 tsp water

Place orange juice, marmalade and soy sauce into a small pot and bring to the boil over a medium heat.

Lower heat, add cornflour and stir for 2-3 minutes or until glaze has thickened.


Serves 6-8

Use a thin, round French-style bean or a flat-style bean. I like flat green beans, which I slice into ribbons on an old-fashioned bean slicer.


85ml (1/3 cup) orange juice

100g (3/4 cup) Craisins (dried cranberries)

45ml (3 Tbsp) raspberry or red wine vinegar

30ml (2 Tbsp) Dijon mustard

3/4 tsp flaky sea salt

125ml ( 1/2 cup) olive oil

600g green beans (round beans topped; flat beans topped, tailed and sliced)

2 oranges, peeled and segmented

Place orange juice into a small pot set over medium heat and heat until warm.

Add Craisins. Soak for 5-10 minutes or until softened. Drain Craisins, reserving 2 tablespoons liquid.

Place vinegar, mustard and salt into a small bowl and whisk.

Slowly drizzle in olive oil, whisking until mixture has emulsified. Add reserved liquid.

Place pot of water on high heat and bring to the boil.

Add beans and cook for 3-4 minutes or until tender.

Drain and immerse in iced water. Remove beans and pat dry.

Place in large bowl. Add Craisins and orange segments and gently toss with the dressing. Season to taste and serve at room temperature.

The Dominion Post