Pheasant Meatballs

meatballs, pheasant, wild game, family feast
meatballs, pheasant, wild game, family feast
meatballs, pheasant, wild game, family feast

Through our weekly family inspired recipes, we want to encourage the whole family to get involved for at least one meal a week in the great outdoors, no matter what time of year.  Throughout lockdown, we’ll be sharing a new recipe every Tuesday afternoon. 

 

Whilst we don’t advise you to head to your nearest woodland to light a fire, we do heavily endorse a good dose of nature and fresh air as often as you can. Here at The Salt Box, we are firm believers in nourishing through nature. So head out into the garden, roll up your sleeves and fire up your pits.

 

Our pheasant meatballs are the perfect way to introduce your younger ones to game meat. We are firm believers that if we are eating meat, then we should all be trying to incorporate a little more game meat into our diets. It’s super sustainable, really healthy and generally a lot more flavourful than the mainstream sources of protein found on our supermarket shelves.

 

Your local butcher should be able to source you some pheasant, as well as mince it for you. If pheasant isn’t available when you come to cook your meatballs, then it can easily be substituted for partridge, pigeon, rabbit, venison… or literally any other meat of your choice. The only thing we need to consider when using a different meat is the fat content – we generally look for a fat content of 20%. This gives us the perfect balance between moisture, flavour and texture. In this recipe, we’re using a combination of minced pheasant and minced pork. To add an extra bit of indulgence, you could also add a little prosciutto or cured meat to your pheasant meatballs, to give them a real depth of flavour.

 

The egg and bread in this recipe are crucial for binding the meats together, making sure that they don’t fall apart in the pan. Soaking the bread in the milk first, makes the cooked pheasant meatballs so much lighter and super tender. If the meatballs feel dry, then you can add a splash more milk before cooking. Only add a little at a time, we can always add more but it’s harder to rectify if we add too much.

 

This dish is best served simply around the fire with a large hunk of crusty bread. By all means bulk it out with pasta, polenta or mash, but for us it’s the simple pleasure of keeping it simple and working as a family to create a wonderful family feast cooked around the fire.

 

We would love to hear from you if you give the recipe a try, let us know how you get on and share your creations on our social media @thesaltboxuk. We’ll be choosing our favourite photo every two weeks, for the chance to win one of our Salt Box Enamel Mugs (perfect for a hot chocolate around the fire).

Ingredients

Serves

4

50g fresh breadcrumbs

400g pheasant thighs, minced

150g pork belly, minced

A good pinch of nutmeg

A good pinch of fennel seeds (or 1 tsp of Salt Box Chilli, Fennel and Orange Seasoning if your wildlings can take a bit of heat!)

Zest of 1/2 lemon

1 egg

45ml of milk

3 sprigs sage

3 sprigs rosemary

1 large clove of garlic

450ml passata / tomato sauce of your choice

1 ball mozzarella, roughly shredded

Method

STEP ONE

Making the Pheasant Meatballs

 

Before we start making our feast, we need to light a fire and let it burn down to a good bed of embers. Rake the embers out leaving a little fire burning in the back third of the fire pit, so that we can generate more embers to cook over throughout the cooking process.

 

Next, we need to get a bowl and pour in the milk and the breadcrumbs. Give them a good stir together and set them aside so the bread crumbs can absorb all the milk and plump up a little.

 

In a large bowl, place the pheasant mince, pork mince and a little salt and pepper.

 

Finely grate the lemon and garlic into the bowl of mince.

 

Add a pinch each of ground nutmeg and fennel seeds.

 

Crack in the egg and give everything a good mix together. Try and be light handed – as the more we work the mince, the tougher the meatballs will be once they are cooked.  If the meatball mix feels a little dry then we can add a splash more milk, giving everything another quick mix together.

STEP TWO

Cooking the Pheasant Meatballs

 

Place a skillet or heavy based frying pan onto the grill to begin warming up. Make sure the frying pan is big enough to hold all your meatballs (without crowding them).

 

Take small nuggets of the meatball mix and roll between your hands to form bite sized meatballs, keep rolling until the mix is used up.

 

Place a little oil into your pre-heated pan, if the pan is hot enough – the oil should shimmer. If not, place the pan a little closer to the heat before placing in your meatballs. It’s a good idea to wear fire gloves when moving cast-iron pans around the grills.

 

Place the meatballs into the skillet and allow them to brown gently in the pan. Be sure to only turn the meatballs when they have ‘released’ themselves from the bottom of the pan. Gently turn the meatballs in the pan, trying to get a good amount of  colour them on all sides.

 

Once the meatballs have taken on some colour, add the sage and rosemary sprigs into the pan, this will add loads of flavour to the meatballs but can easily be removed if your little wildlings won’t like the stronger taste of these herbs.

STEP THREE

Cooking the Sauce

 

Once the meatballs have browned all over, it’s time to add in your tomato sauce or passata. It will splutter and may spit a little – so be careful and allow it to settle before giving it all stir together.

 

Move the skillet to the coolest part of the fire to allow the sauce to gently simmer. Cook the meatballs until they are cooked through, an instant read thermometer such as a Thermapen is super handy for this. The core temperature should register at 71 degrees C.

 

Scatter over the shredded mozzarella and allow to melt. If you have a pair of long handled tongs (and fire gloves), you could grab a smouldering log from the fire and use it to grill the cheese by holding it close to the surface of the cheese. It’s best if an adult does this part!

 

Remove the pan from the fire and place on something heat proof, allowing to cool slightly before digging in (the mozzarella in particular will be like lava!).

 

Serve with a nice crusty loaf of bread, on mash or polenta, spaghetti or your favourite pasta.

If you enjoyed this recipe, love what we do and would like to support us, we’d appreciate it ever so much if you could buy us a coffee! 

Things to Note

Try and be light handed when mixing together the mince, the more we work the mince the tougher the meatballs will be once they are cooked.

 

Make sure your frying pan is big enough to hold all your meatballs without crowding it.

 

Move the skillet to the coolest part of the fire to allow the sauce to gently simmer. Cook the meatballs until they are cooked through, an instant read thermometer such as a Thermapen is super handy for this. The core temperature should register at 71 degrees C.

 

Disclosure: We only recommend products we have extensively tried and tested and all opinions expressed here are our own. This page may contain affiliate links that at no additional cost to you, we may earn a small commission.

Thermapen

The Classic Thermapen instant-read temperature probe is an essential for all outdoor kitchens.

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A selection of our favorite family inspired books

Chilli, Fennel and Orange Seasoning

Our chilli, fennel and orange was our founding spice blend here at The Salt Box. Originally inspired by the flavours of Italian porchetta, it’s perfect on pork, chicken, fish, pheasant, chicken, partridge or vegetables.