Smoked Venison Meatball Stroganoff with Baby Bella Mushrooms

Tender smoked venison meatballs dressed in creamy stroganoff with fried baby bella mushroom ​and tagliatelle pasta
smoked venison meatball stroganoff

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Venison is a gamey meat that is naturally leaner than cattle. With about half the fat of beef and comparable protein content, venison is a healthy addition to a balanced diet that includes red meat.

It is rich in vitamins and minerals which can result in a deep earthy taste that can be off-putting to some people. These smoked venison meatballs are served in a stroganoff with mushrooms and tangy, sour cream sauce and will convert even the fussiest eaters.

We’re also going to smoke the meatballs for half an hour with oak so they get an added layer of flavor that compliments the rustic, old-world stroganoff.

What is venison?

Venison is the butcher term for deer meat. Wild and grass-fed, venison stays leaner than beef simply due to the animal’s activity level during its life. 

packaged ground venison from silver fern farms on a wooden table
Venison is a leaner meat compared to beef

A trimmed, 3oz grilled portion provides about 135 calories and 3 grams of fat. That’s only 1 gram of fat per ounce of meat.

Compare that to beef sirloin at 160 calories and 6 grams of fat per grilled 3oz. That’s twice as much fat per ounce of meat.

For this recipe, I”m using New Zealand ground venison from Silver Fern Farms but you can easily find venison at your local butcher, or if you are a hunter you may even want to grind your own!

If you’re keen on grinding your own meat, look for venison shoulder or chuck as they have ample amounts of marbling compared to the rest of the animal.

You can use the leaner parts of venison for grinding, but they tend to dry out quickly while cooking, and since we’re smoking these as well, it’s best to stick with fattier portions. 

nutrition facts of ground venison
Being low in fat and high in protein, venison is a great addition to a balanced diet

Venison has 26 grams of protein per 3 oz, where the sirloin has 24 g. It is also rich in minerals like iron and vitamins B1 and B6, as well as niacin and riboflavin.

Coming in cheaper per pound than beef, venison shapes up to be a pretty good protein option for your meals.

Prepare the meatballs

Prepare your smoker to 200°F. I’m using the Z Grills 700D4E with their branded oak pellets

Since venison is a lean meat, we’re going to add some cooked onions and garlic to the meat mixture to retain moisture throughout cooking. 

fried chopped onions in a cast iron pan
Cooked onions and garlic will help retain moisture while cooking the lean venison

Preheat a cast iron or heavy-bottomed frying pan to medium-low heat. Finely chop one sweet onion and two cloves of garlic. Add 1 tbsp of oil to the pan and 1 tbsp butter and stir until the butter is melted.

Add the chopped onions and garlic and cook until soft and translucent. Remove from heat and let cool for about ten minutes. 

Add 1 lb of ground venison to a stainless steel, ceramic, or glass mixing bowl. Add in the cooked onion and garlic, one small bunch of finely chopped dill, 1 tbsp of wholegrain mustard, ½ cup of breadcrumbs, and one medium egg. Add 1 tsp kosher salt and ½ tsp ground black pepper to finish it off. 

ground venison, fried onions, raw egg, breadcrumbs and mustard in a metal bowl
You can purchase ground venison or grind your own meat

Gently mix the ingredients together with your hands until fully and evenly incorporated. Roll the mixture into even-sized balls. 

raw venison meatballs on a metal tray
To ensure meatballs cook evenly, roll the meat mixture into even-sized balls

Cook the venison meatballs

In the same pan you used for the onions and garlic, heat 1 tbsp oil over medium-high heat. Sear the meatballs on all sides until a nice crust forms.

venison meatballs searing in a cast iron pan
Make sure to evenly sear the meatballs on all sides

Once all meatballs are seared, place them on the smoker and smoke them undisturbed for roughly 30 minutes. 

seared venison meatballs on a cast iron pan on a pellet grill
Smoke meatballs at 200°F using oak pellets for about half an hour

Cook the mushrooms

While the meatballs are smoking, cook the mushrooms. In another large frying pan, melt 2 tbsp butter over medium-high heat. Add 1 ½ cups chopped baby bella mushrooms to the frying pan and a pinch of salt. Toss to coat all the mushrooms evenly.

cooked bella mushrooms in a pan
Baby bella, shitake or even white mushrooms – all work great for this recipe

If you can’t find baby bella mushrooms you can substitute shiitake or white mushrooms in their place. Shiitake will be more flavorful, but cost more than standard white mushrooms. 

Continue cooking until all the juices in the pan evaporate and the mushrooms are a golden brown. 

Make the sauce

Lower the heat to medium and stir in ½ tsp smoked paprika and 1 tbsp all-purpose flour. Pour in 2 cups of beef stock and bring to a simmer. Scrape loose any bits that are stuck to the pan as it starts to simmer.

Remove the mushrooms with a slotted spoon and set aside. Bring the liquid to a boil for 5 minutes, then mix in 1 tbsp whole grain mustard, 2 tsp dijon mustard, 1 tbsp tomato puree, and 1 cup of sour cream. 

Stir together and let simmer until the sauce has thickened and coats the back of a spoon. Roughly 20 minutes.

Cook the noodles

While the sauce is simmering, cook half a pound of tagliatelle pasta according to the package (8 oz uncooked). Drain the noodles and set them aside while the sauce finishes. 

Bring it all together

Put the meatballs and the mushrooms into the simmering sauce. Make sure the meatballs are cooked all the way through at a temperature of at least 160°F. Season the mixture to taste.

smoked venison meatball stroganoff in a cast iron pan
Meatballs should be fully cooked before you put them into the sauce

Note – you can add a pinch or two of sugar if you prefer a sweeter sauce than a sour one.

Plate the noodles in a pasta dish, and cover with the stroganoff. Garnish with chopped dill and serve hot.

smoked venison meatball stroganoff on a plate
Cover your favorite noodles with the smoked venison meatball stroganoff and enjoy while hot
smoked venison meatball stroganoff in a cast iron pan

Smoked Venison Meatball Stroganoff with Baby Bella Mushrooms

Tender smoked venison meatballs dressed in a creamy stroganoff sauce with fried baby bella mushroom ​and tagliatelle pasta.
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Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Russian
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 35 minutes
Servings: 4
Calories: 779kcal
Author: Phen Pavelka

Ingredients

For the Meatballs:

  • 1 lb ground venison
  • 1 sweet onion finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic chopped
  • 2 tbsp cooking oil
  • 1 small bunch of dill roughly chopped plus 1 tbsp finely chopped for garnish
  • 1 tbsp wholegrain mustard
  • ½ cup breadcrumbs
  • 1 medium egg beaten
  • kosher salt and coarse ground pepper to taste

For the Stroganoff:

  • 3 tbsp butter
  • cup baby bella mushrooms chopped
  • ½ tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tbsp plain flour
  • 2 cups beef stock
  • 1 tbsp wholegrain mustard
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp tomato purée
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • ½ lb tagliatelle
  • kosher salt and coarse ground pepper to taste

Instructions

  • Preheat your smoker to 200°F.
  • Cook the onions and garlic in 1 tbsp oil over medium-low heat until soft and translucent. Let cool for ten minutes.
  • Mix together the venison, egg, breadcrumbs, 1 tbsp finely chopped dill, 1 tbsp whole grain mustard, 1 tsp salt, ½ tsp ground pepper, and the cooled onion and garlic in a bowl.
  • Roll meat mixture into evenly sized meatballs.
  • Add 1 tbsp oil to the frying pan and sear meatballs on all sides over medium high heat.
  • Leaving meatballs in the frying pan, move them to the smoker and let smoke for roughly 30 minutes.
  • In a separate large frying pan, melt 2 tbsp butter over medium-high heat.
  • Add the mushrooms and a pinch of salt to the pan and toss to coat in the melted butter.
  • Cook until the pan juices have evaporated and the mushrooms are golden brown.
  • Lower heat to medium, stir in ½ tsp paprika and 1 tbsp all-purpose flour.
  • Pour in 2 cups of beef stock and bring to a simmer. Scrape loose any bits that are stuck to the pan as it starts to simmer.
  • Remove the mushrooms with a slotted spoon and set aside.
  • Bring the liquid to a boil for 5 minutes, then mix in 1 tbsp whole grain mustard, 2 tsp dijon mustard, 1 tbsp tomato puree, and 1 cup of sour cream.
  • Stir together and let simmer until the sauce has thickened and coats the back of a spoon. Roughly 20 minutes.
  • While the sauce is simmering, cook half a pound of tagliatelle pasta according to the package (8 oz uncooked). Drain the noodles and set aside until the sauce finishes.
  • Put the meatballs and the mushrooms into the simmering sauce.
  • Make sure the meatballs are cooked all the way through at a temperature of at least 160°F. Season the mixture to taste. Note – you can add a pinch or two of sugar if you prefer a sweeter sauce than a sour one.
  • Plate the noodles in a pasta dish, cover with the stroganoff and garnish with chopped dill.

Nutrition

Calories: 779kcal | Carbohydrates: 64g | Protein: 42g | Fat: 40g | Saturated Fat: 18g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 232mg | Sodium: 693mg | Potassium: 1126mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 886IU | Vitamin C: 6mg | Calcium: 171mg | Iron: 6mg

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