Wild Recipes

Black Bear Meatball Subs

Latest posts by Shawn West (see all)
4.3 from 3 votes

As winter hits hard in Southern Ontario, I find myself increasingly in need of comfort food. Something warm, rich, and homey to chase away the winter blues. While searching my freezer I found one last tightly-sealed packet of ground black bear meat, which I decided would be perfect for meatballs.

These meatballs are super-simple to make, and could easily just be skewered on toothpicks and served, but a thick toasty meatball sub seemed the best use for them, especially since NFL playoffs were right around the corner. The marinara is also straightforward, and then it’s just a matter of putting it all on some fresh rolls with melted provolone.

The meatballs were tender with an intense wild flavour, while the marinara provided good acidity to balance the rich meat and melted cheese. The meatball and marinara combo would likewise go just as well on a classic spaghetti dinner, and I saved four of the meatballs for just such a future occasion when I needed a big plate of pasta.

This was the last of the bear meat that I had on hand, and as always, the story of that bear came flooding back as I ate the final bites, leaving me anxious for the next time I can add another bruin to the freezer.

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Black Bear Meatball Subs

Recipe by Shawn West
4.3 from 3 votes
Course: Uncategorized


Prep time


Cooking time


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  • Meatballs
  • 500g ground black bear

  • 1 egg, beaten

  • 1/3 cup plain breadcrumbs

  • 2tsp dried oregano

  • 2tsp dried basil

  • 1tsp onion powder

  • 1tsp garlic powder

  • 1tsp dried chili flakes

  • ½ tsp black pepper

  • ½ tsp salt

  • Marinara
  • 1 small white onion, diced

  • 4 cloves of garlic, chopped

  • 1tbsp olive oil

  • 1 can (800ml or 26oz) crushed tomatoes

  • 1 can (150ml or 5.5oz) tomato paste

  • 1 tbsp dried oregano

  • 1 tbsp fresh chopped basil

  • Sandwich
  • 16 slices Provolone cheese

  • 4 sub rolls

  • ½ cup of finely grated parmesan cheese


  • Preheat an oven to 475 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Combine all the meatball ingredients in a large glass bowl, and begin to knead the ingredients together until all ingredients are incorporated.
  • Using slightly wet hands, roll together the meatballs. They should be just slightly smaller than golf balls and you should get 12-16 total.
  • Line a sheet pan with aluminum foil or a thin layer of cooking spray, and place the meatballs on the pan.
  • Cook at 475 Fahrenheit for 25-30 minutes or until cooked through to temperature of 150F.
  • While the meatballs bake, cook the onion and garlic over medium heat until softened, but not browned.
  • Add the tomato paste, combine and cook for five minutes.
  • Add the crushed tomatoes and dried herbs then simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally.
  • Add the meatballs to the sauce and simmer for 15-20 minutes. Do not let the sauce boil with the meatballs in it, or they will get tough.
  • Slice a sub roll lengthwise and put two slices of provolone on the bottom of the sub.
  • Spoon out 4-5 meatballs and sauce and place on the provolone.
  • Sprinkle with parmesan and layer on two more slices of provolone.
  • Broil for 2-3 minutes until the cheese melts and the edges of the bread are toasted.
  • Let cool slightly and enjoy.

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Shawn West

I grew up in a family of anglers and hunters, and time spent in the Ontario outdoors with my father, siblings, uncles, cousins, and friends figured large in shaping who I am now. The most valuable lesson of the outdoors that I learned as a youth was that nothing took more importance than respecting the life of the animal that you had just hunted.

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