Wild Recipes

Venison Ricotta Meatballs with Alfredo Tagliatelle

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Recipe Contributed by Field Staff Writer A. Zada.

Unfortunately this deer season was very rough for me. After many long hunts deep in the Angeles National Forest I came up empty handed. To top it off, my last hunt two days before the season ended I hiked a few miles into my tree stand just to find that someone had stolen it. After going through a grab bag of mixed emotions, I climbed up to where my stand use to be and realized that it probably wasn’t a hunter that stole it. My bow hanger and hooks were all still up there, if it were a hunter they surely would have stolen those as well. It was probably some irate hiker that thought this was their contribution to saving the forest. Well I hope they had fun lugging that thing uphill 2 miles just to find that they couldn’t fit it in their tiny car and ditched it on the side of the road somewhere. Great way to save the forest!

Either way it’s great to have good friends like my buddy Steve, who so graciously hooked me up with several pounds of Tennessee whitetail from his last trip to his family property. I figured this would be a great time to make my wife ecstatic by cooking her and my family a meatball and pasta dish. It is, after all, her favorite thing in the world. I chose to use Tagliatella, but you can use any kind of pasta you have handy. I like the long flatter noodle because of the way it holds the cream sauce. Also, the cheese in the meatball creates a nice creamy texture that pairs very well with the Alfredo. Enjoy!

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Ingredients for Venison MeatballsMeatballs

  • 2 lbsVenison, ground
  • 3 garlic coves, minced
  • ½  red onion, fine dice
  • 1 cup ricotta
  • ½ cup Parmesan, grated
  • 1 cup bread crumbs
  • 2  eggs
  • 1 Tbs salt
  • 1 tsp  pepper
  • ½tsp red pepper flakes

Alfredo Sauce

  • 4 Tbs unsalted butter
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cups  heavy cream
  • ½ cup Parmesan, grated
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • ¼ cup parsley, chopped
  • 1lb Tagliatelle (you can also use fettuccine or any other pasta you like)


  1. Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees
  2. Mix all meatball ingredients together in a bowl and make sure it is well combined.
  3. Making Venison MeatballsLay a piece of parchment paper down on a sheet tray so the meatballs don’t stick. Roll meatballs into 1-½” to 2″ balls. It should make about 24 meatballs. Place them onto the sheet tray and place into preheated oven for 25-30 min. until internal temperature is 145 degrees. Remove and set aside.
  4. While meatballs are in the oven start on the Alfredo sauce and pasta. Heat a sauté pan to medium-high heat and add butter. Get a large pot of water and bring to a boil.
  5. Once butter is melted add the garlic and saute for 1 min.
  6. Add heavy cream and simmer for 10-15 min until it has reduced to almost half.
  7. Add the cheese and season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat once cheese has melted (be careful not to over heat the sauce once the cheese is in)
  8. Cook pasta to package direction.
  9. Reserve a little sauce to top meatballs. Add pasta to sauce and toss until well coated.
  10. Plate the pasta and top with meatballs and parsley. Enjoy!

Venison Meatballs

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Ara Zada

Born and raised in Los Angeles Ara Zada is a chef, author, TV personality, food stylist and avid bow hunter. He has worked with Outdoor News, PBS, Food Network, ABC, CBS, NBC, TNT, Jaime Oliver Food Foundation and a range of others. His first cookbook ‘Lavash’ was released Oct. 2019. When he’s not cooking he’s shooting his bow, teaching his kids about the outdoors, training for triathlons and filling any available time with parkour.

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