Homemade spaghetti sauce and wild game meatballs

It’s hard not to find someone who does not enjoy Italian food. Try this recipe at your next hunting camp and you will impress. This is a great way to carb load for those long miles of hiking in the mountains. The meal plan below will feed two nicely.

Ingredients:
• 4 – 8oz. cans tomato sauce
• 1 – 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes
• 1 ½ teaspoon diced garlic
• ¼ a yellow onion diced up (or your onion of choice)
• 1-2 cups of diced mushrooms
• ½ pound of ground pronghorn or other wild-game meat
• ½ pound ground sausage of your flavor
• 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
• 8-10 oz. angel hair pasta or spaghetti noodles (I’m partial to angel hair pasta)
• 1 teaspoon of garlic salt
• 1 teaspoon of crushed Mexican oregano or oregano (I like using Mexican oregano)
• ½ teaspoon of pepper

Mix your sausage, ground cheese and ground wild-game together. Once mixed well make your meatballs. I make the meatballs by hand, about golf ball sized. Next, brown them on medium heat in the nonstick pan. With most wild game you will not get any drippings, but if you do feel free to add this to your sauce.

Next, put four, 8 oz. cans of tomato sauce and one 14.5 oz. can of diced tomatoes in one of your boiling pots. Mix in garlic salt, Mexican oregano or oregano (I prefer Mexican oregano) and pepper. Turn the sauce on medium heat and cover with a lid (keep checking it regularly and stir occasionally).

Sauté your diced garlic, mushrooms and onions in your small nonstick pan, on medium heat, in a little butter. Once they are caramelized, add them to the tomato sauce.

Once the meatballs are finished, place them into the sauce as well and turn the sauce down to low heat at this time and stir occasionally. I like to cook my sauce for approximately 1 ¾ – 2 hours on very low heat.

When the sauce is close to being finished, within 30 minutes, start boiling water for your pasta. Once the water is boiling put your pasta in the water. I don’t use any olive oil in the water nor will I butter the pasta once they are finished cooking.*

Be careful to not overcook your pasta as they will become mushy. Once your pasta is finished, drain the water off using your colander. I will then put the noodles back into their pot and I will mix the finished sauce with the pasta. This is a great meal and don’t forget the garlic bread. Serve and enjoy!

Whenever you harvest big game animals, try to make some of the meat into breakfast sausage, chorizo, sweet Italian sausage, etc. to try something different! And don’t forget to introduce someone new to hunting, fishing or trapping in the future!

* Honestly, I used to do this but an Italian friend told me that the sauce cannot properly stick to the noodles if you butter your noodles.

Photo by Storm Usrey.

Try this classic hot sandwich with your leftover pronghorn meatballs.

Slice open your favorite sub sandwich bread, pour a generous spoonful of tomato sauce down the center, add meatballs and a little more sauce.  Cover meatballs with some shredded mozzarella and a sprinkle of grated parmesan. Place the sandwich in the oven to melt the cheese. Enjoy!

Pronghorn meatball sandwich. Photo by Alexa J. Henry

About Storm Usrey

Storm Usrey
Storm Usrey is the Conservation Education Manager for the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish.