Moose Meatballs with Spaghetti
A recipe featured in the Outdoor News Taste of the Wild
Recipe and photos by Ryan Lisson
To many readers these days, moose might be a bit of an exotic wild game meat. With few exceptions, it can be tough to come by. I’m fortunate enough that my brother-in-law gifted to me some roasts, steaks, and burger from a successful moose hunt he had last fall. To make it less exotic and more approachable to my kids, I opted to turn some of the burger into my son’s favorite dinner: spaghetti and meatballs.
Like venison, moose is a very lean meat – in fact, it’s one of the leanest meats out there. To make the meatballs juicier and improve the texture, I mixed in ground beef at a ratio of 1:1. I wanted to maximize the fat content, so I went with an 80/20 ground beef. You lose a lot of the “wild game” flavor by combining with beef, but this is a great way to introduce wild game to others or stretch your store-bought meat budget out a bit. The resulting meatballs hold their shape well through the cooking process, and are truly delicious.
Everyone seems to have their own little secrets and preferences when it comes to pasta sauce, so feel free to experiment with that. I like adding the herbs and spices below, and some balsamic vinegar for a little sweet and tangy taste. While dried herbs are convenient, fresh herbs will elevate the flavor a lot more – just use a bit more when cooking with fresh herbs. Just like that, you can enjoy a gourmet moose meal while keeping your kids happy at the same time.
Yield: 6-8 servings
1 pound ground moose
1 pound ground beef (80/20 blend)
4 cloves garlic, minced
2/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2/3 cup bread crumbs
1 egg, beaten
2 teaspoons each: dried oregano, basil, and parsley
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 15-ounce cans of tomato sauce or canned tomatoes
1 teaspoon each: dried oregano, basil, garlic powder, onion powder
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper, to taste
16 ounces dry spaghetti noodles
4 quarts water
- Preheat the oven to 375o Fahrenheit.
- Mix the ground moose and beef together until it is well-combined. Add the garlic, parmesan cheese, bread crumbs, egg, and herbs/spices, and mix thoroughly.
- Form 1” meatballs by rolling them between your hands. Arrange in a single layer in a 9×13” glass baking dish. Cook uncovered in the oven for approximately 20 minutes.
- In the meantime, add the tomato sauce, herbs/spices, and balsamic vinegar to a large pot, and simmer over medium-low heat. Transfer the meatballs to the sauce pot using a slotted spoon (to remove the excess fat drippings). Simmer for another 20 minutes.
- Heat water in a separate pot until boiling. Add the dry pasta noodles and cook until al dente (approximately 10 minutes). Drain noodles in a colander.
- Plate the noodles and add the sauce and meatballs over the top. Alternatively, you can add the noodles directly to the sauce pot to soak up a little more moisture and flavor.
- Serve with more Parmesan and your favorite bread.
About the Chef: Ryan is a biologist, hunting mentor, and outdoors writer from Saint Paul, Minnesota. He enjoys spending time outside with his wife and two kids, and preparing different wild game recipes. He is also the founder of zerotohunt.com, a website to mentor and coach new adult hunters so they can experience the outdoors too.