I found this meatloaf recipe originally on Steve Rinella’s MeatEater site, but I have made a few modifications to it that I think makes it a little bit better. He has a bunch of great recipes over there, so be sure to go check them out.
Wild Game Meatloaf
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil or 2 tablespoons bacon grease (I prefer the bacon grease)
- 1 onion, chopped finely
- 5 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
- 10 ounces baby spinach (approximately 1 whole standard salad bag)
- Whole nutmeg, freshly grated (about ¼ teaspoon)
- Pinch red chile flakes (1/4t.)
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped Jalapenos (not required)
- 1/2 cup fresh whole wheat breadcrumbs (2 pieces)
- ¼ cup oatmeal
- ¼ cup finely chopped parsley (from one small bunch of flat leafed parsley)
- 3 tablespoons finely chopped chives
- 3 sprigs of thyme, leaves stripped (keep the leaves, not the sprigs)
- ½ cup milk (whole is better)
- 1 ½ pounds ground meat (I have used elk, deer, beef and bear meat. All of them have been fabulous.)
- 2 eggs
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground pepper (I like sea salt)
- Butter for greasing the pan
- 3 ounces provolone (or fontina) cut into sticks about 1/3 inch x 1/3 inch x 3 inches
- 5 tablespoons cup pine nuts
- ¼ cup seedy mustard mixed with 1t. honey for coating (if you want to go healthier, skip the honey. It is still good)
Directions for making Wild Game Meatloaf
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Prepare the onion mixture
- In a large sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium high heat.
- Add the onion and cook until caramelized, about 6 minutes, and then season it with 1 teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon black pepper.
- Add the garlic and half of the pine nuts and cook for a minute more. Remove half of the mixture and set that aside to cool. (this is where I made a change to the original recipe. I really like pine nuts so I included them in this mix as well as the filling)
Prepare the filling
- Add the spinach and red chile flakes to the half of the onion mixture remaining in the pan, and toss with tongs until the spinach is wilted.
- With a microplane, finely grate ¼ teaspoon of the nutmeg over the spinach. Set aside to cool.
Mix and prepare the meatloaf
- Place breadcrumbs, oatmeal, and chopped herbs in a small bowl. Pour milk over top. Let sit while you mix the meat.
- In a large bowl, combine the ground meat, cooled onion mixture, and the eggs. Season well with salt and freshly ground pepper. (if you like jalapenos add them now)
- Add the soaked breadcrumb mixture and combine well. You could use a spoon for mixing, but it’s easier to just use your hands.
- Once the mixture is combined, lay a one-inch layer of the meatloaf mixture on the bottom of a greased loaf pan. Pat it down so it reaches the corners, and allow it to come up the sides a bit. You will fill this cavity with the filling.
- Next, lay the cooled sautéed spinach over the meat mixture leaving a ½-inch border of meat around the spinach. Top the spinach with the cheese sticks lengthwise in the pans, forming a stripe in the center that runs the length of the pan. Next sprinkle some pine nuts over each stripe of cheese. Top with the remaining meat mixture and pat down. You want to be sure the top of the meat mixture meets the bottom meat mixture along the sides.
- Pat the top of the loaf so it’s flat and even. Then coat with the seedy mustard.
- If you used bacon grease instead of olive oil, place the cooked bacon on top of the meatloaf
- Bake for an hour or until an instant read thermometer reads 150 when inserted in the center.
When I cook this meatloaf recipe, I usually serve it with cooked carrots, mashed sweet potatoes, a side salad and red wine. It is ALWAYS a hit.