Meatballs, without breadcrumbs? Can you DO that?
Why yes, yes you can! And, as I discovered today when making these easy grain free venison meatballs, you don’t actually need anything to replace breadcrumbs if you have to eat gluten free.
I’ve used oats, leftover quinoa and even psyllium husk as “binders” but really, you don’t even need any kind of breadcrumb-like substance. All you need is some quality meat, an egg, and a few simple spices most likely lurking in your kitchen cabinets anyway.
Venison is a lean, healthy protein source, but you can use any meat.
My hunter hubby got a deer last fall, and while venison is not my favorite meat (I don’t even know why, it’s probably far healthier than supermarket beef!), this particular deer meat is not gamey at all.
We had our ground venison processed with 5% beef fat, although I did have some saved without any added fat to use in my Trim Healthy Mama E style meals. I used our 95% lean meat to make these easy grain free venison meatballs because I was planning an S style meal this evening.
Do you have to use venison?
Not everyone is a fan of venison, I get that. Sometimes you love venison but don’t have any, too. You can still make these easy meatballs though.
Any good quality ground meat should do the trick. I often like to mix meats as well, and my favorite combo is a ground red meat such as beef or venison and ground chicken.
Buy the best quality meat you can afford, as they tend to be more flavorful and don’t need as much “help” with flavor. That means less salt, usually. I’m not afraid of salt by any means, but then I don’t eat a lot of processed or restaurant foods and mostly use a high mineral salt such as the Mineral Salt from the THM Store or sea salt. Regular, iodized table salt is stripped of minerals that are essential for keeping blood pressure regulated, no wonder it seems to contribute to high blood pressure.
“Very good, Mom!” said my picky 15-year old daughter.
She has what you’d call a…particular palate. So if she says something is good, then it’s good. Hubby even said they were very good, and he doesn’t get too excited about food unless it’s pizza or steak generally.
There were no leftovers, unfortunately. I only used one pound of meat for our family of four, next time I will use two. But served with green beans and buttered rice (for my family) we were all satisfied.
Seasoning tip: How can you tell when the meatballs are seasoned correctly (without tasting RAW meat)?
I used to end up with meatballs that tasted great sometimes, and other times lacked salt or just…something. No way was I tasting raw meat, so how could I make sure they were seasoned properly?
Since I almost always bake my meatballs in a cast iron skillet, the solution was simple – heat up the skillet and cook a bite sized piece before forming the meatballs. Need more salt? Missing a certain spice? Add it and cook another test piece.
Once you nail that flavor, then form the meatballs and place them in your preheated skillet then pop it in the oven.
If you prefer to use a baking dish, no problem. Just use whatever skillet you like to use to cook your test piece. Yes, it dirties a pan (barely) but for the sake of avoiding bland meatballs, it’s worth the 30 seconds of clean up to make sure you’ve got that seasoning right, right?
Trim Healthy Mamas, here’s how these fit into our healthy eating plan:
Since venison is naturally lean, on its own it’s fine for an E or Fuel Pull style meal. If you have added fat ground into your venison, you’ll probably want to plan these meatballs for an S setting.
If using this recipe for an E or Fuel Pull style meal, simply substitute 1/4 c egg whites, fresh or carton, for the whole egg in this recipe. If you’re using ground venison with no added fat, you might want to add 1 tablespoon of healthy fat/oil such as coconut oil (refined has no flavor) or olive oil. This would result in less than 1 teaspoon fat per serving.
Let’s make some Easy Grain Free Venison Meatballs!
- Preheat oven to 350
- In a mixing bowl, combine all ingredients thoroughly. Use your hands if you're not squeamish.
- Preheat a cast iron skillet while making meatballs.
- To test seasoning, cook a small piece and taste it. Adjust as necessary.
- When you're happy with the seasoning, use a 1 Tablespoon measure to scoop out meat and form into balls (makes 16 meatballs this way) or make them whatever size you like (will change yield).
- Place formed meatballs into the preheated skillet (or use a baking sheet or dish)
- Bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes, or until cooked through and lightly browned on the outside.
Since venison is naturally lean, on its own it's fine for an E or Fuel Pull style meal. If you have added fat ground into your venison, you'll probably want to plan these meatballs for an S setting.
If using this recipe for an E or Fuel Pull style meal, simply substitute ¼ c egg whites, fresh or carton, for the whole egg in this recipe. If you're using ground venison with no added fat, you might want to add 1 tablespoon of healthy fat/oil such as coconut oil (refined has no flavor) or olive oil. This would result in less than 1 teaspoon fat per serving.
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