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.
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.
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 Rosemary Garlic Red Wine Sauce over Cheesy Polenta
1/2 cup chopped Italian parsley, plus more for plating
For the Sauce
2 tablespoons red pepper flakes
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.