Recipe: Fall Favorite

Rodin’s Kate Williams serves up pasta topped with a venison-based meatball sauce
Photograph by Joe Vaughn

Kate Williams, executive chef at Rodin, the restaurant in the Park Shelton next door to the DIA in Detroit’s Cultural Center, says fall is one of her favorite times of the year from a food perspective. “There are so many hearty vegetables, and the season just screams comfort food. This is a great way to use some of the tougher parts of venison if you have them lying in your freezer. You can also have your butcher grind the meat for you.” The sauce may be used over pasta, and the meatballs make a great sandwich too, she adds.

> Venison Sweet Potato Meatballs

(Serves 4)
1 1/2 pounds ground venison
2 medium sweet potatoes, cooked and mashed
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 shallots, minced
5 sprigs of thyme, leaves stripped and chopped
1/3 cup Michigan maple syrup
2 tablespoons cornstarch
Salt and pepper to taste

> Gin Mushroom Cream Sauce

2 tablespoons blended olive oil
1 pound mushrooms (preferably wild Michigan
mushrooms; button or cremini mushrooms can
be substituted) torn into small pieces or sliced
2 shallots, sliced
4 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons gin
1 cup chicken or beef stock
1 cup heavy cream
Lemon juice to taste
Salt and pepper to taste

> Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine venison, thyme, garlic, shallots, maple syrup, sweet potatoes, cornstarch, salt, and pepper in a bowl. Mix gently just to combine and fully incorporate. Do not over mix!

Portion into about 1/3-1/2-cup meatballs and place on sprayed sheet pan with parchment. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until fully cooked.

> Meanwhile, make the sauce:

Heat 2 tablespoons blended olive oil in a medium to large saucepan on medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and cook for 5-7 minutes or until all moisture has evaporated. Add shallots and garlic and saute another 3 minutes. Turn heat to low and deglaze pan with gin. Let gin reduce by half, then add stock and heavy cream. Bring to a low boil and add lemon juice, salt, and pepper to taste.

Pour sauce over meatballs and serve over your favorite rice or pasta.

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