Bart Simpson might not have been its biggest fan, but Cai ap Bryn rates meatloaf as one of the tastiest ways to use up frozen venison. Serves four to five.
This venison meatloaf recipe is great for using up leftover venison from last season, clearing out the freezer ready to restock for the coming months. (Read our tips on freezing game.)
I use minced venison, a little bit of fatty pork, breadcrumbs and some Christmas spices. This is my version of a Christmas alternative that, like all meat, is excellent on the day and even better as part of a cold platter on Boxing Day. I have one bit of advice if you decide to try your own combination. Before cooking it, make up a little patty and fry it to see how it tastes. It may be that you need to adjust the seasoning.
Venison meatloaf recipe
- 1 small onion, diced
- 1 garlic clove, diced
- 8 dried apricots, finely diced
- ¼ tsp nutmeg
- ¼ tsp allspice
- 400g venison mince
- 200g fatty pork mince
- 80g breadcrumbs
- 6 finely chopped sage leaves
- 1 Tsp of Dijon mustard
- ¾ tsp salt
- ½ tsp black pepper
- 1 small jar of cranberry jelly or some honey’
- In a small pan, gently soften the onion, garlic and apricots. Add in the spices to cook through, then set aside to cool. Preheat the oven to 170°C.
- Mix the venison with the pork and breadcrumbs, along with the chopped sage, onions, garlic, the mustard and the apricot mixture. At this point, a little patty can be fried off to check the seasoning. More of a Christmas kick can be added with extra allspice, nutmeg or even cloves.
- Place in a greased loaf tin and shape. Some people like to run a channel through the middle to collect the juices and stop run-off. Cover the top with the cranberry jelly.
- Cover with foil and place in the preheated oven for 25 minutes, then remove the foil and cook for a further 25 minutes. This helps to stop the sugars in the cranberry jelly burning. Check with a temperature probe to make sure the internal temperature is 75°C or above.
- Cover the meatloaf with foil and let it rest for an hour. This enables the loaf to set and makes it easier to cut. Serve with mashed potatoes, rich gravy and sides. It’s also delicious cold and makes a great sandwich. Or try using a gingerbread cutter to make Marge Simpson-style meatloaf men.
Cai ap Bryn on meatloaf
Meatloaf always reminds me of The Simpsons. Growing up, I distinctly remember Marge’s little meatloaf men and how it was Bart’s “most hated of all loaves”. I always remember it, but never actually ate meatloaf until I was in my early twenties. To me, it was an American dish that only appeared on TV — it was unheard of over here. However, after researching the dish, I realised that the origins of meatloaf can be traced to Germany, Belgium and potentially other European countries as far back as the fifth century.
Effectively, a meatloaf is simply one large meatball with a sweet topping, usually a spiced ketchup. There are hundreds of variations produced by many cultures, with meatloaf being a staple in Jewish cuisine, too. Meatloaf is delicious, hearty and a fantastic meal for the colder months. It makes good use of cheaper cuts of meat, which are minced up and mixed with seasoning and spices. You can be as adventurous as you like with it, or equally keep it simple. You can even make it in advance and freeze it, ready for a quick meal on another day.
Venison is a good choice for this recipe, though it could also be made using wild boar. The sweet cranberries really do complement the venison and — as all deer species are in season over these winter months — it is a perfect meat choice for this dish. I have always liked mine as a roast with mashed potatoes, rich onion gravy and greens.