Feta and Mint Venison Meatballs with a Spiced Tomato Sauce


I love the combination of these flavors inspired by the Mediterranean and Middle East. I’ve had them in dishes with lamb and goat and found they work really well with game, too.


Feta and Mint Meatballs with a Spiced Tomato Sauce

Makes about 15 meatballs

Equipment: (2) 8- or 10-inch pans





1 pound ground deer *

1 egg

½ cup crumbled feta cheese

1 ½  tablespoons fresh mint leaves finely chopped

½ teaspoon ground black pepper

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ cup plain bread crumbs**


*Although it calls for ground deer, this recipe can be made with any ground meat. 

**I use meat with fat added. If the meat you're using doesn’t have fat already added, you may need more breadcrumbs to bind the meatballs and use 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil in the pan to brown the meatballs.



(1) 14.5 oz can crushed or pureed tomatoes

2 garlic cloves minced

¼ of a medium onion diced small

1 tablespoon olive oil

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon ground coriander




To make the meatballs: 

1. Put all the ingredients in a bowl and mix until all ingredients are evenly dispersed. I prefer using my hands to mix it. 

2. Roll the mixture into meatballs a little bit bigger than golf balls (about 1 oz each). 

3. Set meatballs aside to start the sauce.


To make the sauce:

1. Heat the olive oil in a pan over medium heat..

2. Once the oil is hot, add the garlic and onions. Saute about 3 minutes until onions are translucent, but neither garlic nor onions are browned.

3. Add salt, black pepper, cinnamon, and coriander. Stir into garlic and onions and let it cook for about 30 seconds to release the flavors.

4. Add tomatoes. Turn the heat to medium low/ low to simmer and reduce the sauce.


Brown the meatballs:

1. While the sauce is simmering, heat the second pan over medium heat. (If the ground meat you're using doesn’t have fat added, add 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil to the pan and let it get hot.)

2. When the pan is hot, add the meatballs and brown them on all sides. This will take about 6-7 minutes.


Putting it together:

Once the meatballs are browned, add them to the sauce and cover the pan to let them finish cooking, about 7 minutes (check the meatballs to be sure they’re cooked through).


Serving suggestions: These are great served with a baguette or couscous and a simple green salad. Enjoy!


About Julie Mackiewicz

Julie Mackiewicz lives in Missoula, MT. She is continually inspired by different flavors and foods.

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