Venison Meatloaf (Steve Rinella)
1½ lbs. ground meat (90% lean game meat, 10% pork fat)
3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil or 2 tbsp. bacon grease
1 medium onion, finely chopped
Freshly ground black pepper
5 cloves garlic, minced
10 oz. baby spinach
¼ tsp. red pepper flakes
¼ tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
½ cup fresh breadcrumbs
¼ cup oatmeal
¼ cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
3 tbsp. finely chopped chives
Leaves from 3 sprigs thyme
½ cup milk
Butter for greasing the pan
3 oz. provolone or fontina cheese cut into sticks about ⅓" x 1" x 3"
3 tbsp. pine nuts, toasted
¼ cup seedy mustard
1 tsp. honey
Preheat oven to 350°F.
In a large sauté pan, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook until browned, about 6 minutes. Season it with 1 teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon black pepper.
Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute more.
Remove half the onion-garlic mixture and set that aside to cool. Then add the spinach and red pepper flakes to the half remaining in the pan and toss with tongs until the spinach is wilted.
Stir in the nutmeg. Set aside to cool.
Place the breadcrumbs, oatmeal, parsley, chives, and thyme in a small bowl. Pour the milk over the top and let sit while you mix the meat.
In a large bowl, combine the ground meat, cooled onion-garlic mixture, and the eggs. Season well with salt and black pepper. Add the soaked bread crumb 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 1-inch layer of the meatloaf mixture on the bottom of a 1½-pound or 2-pound 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 spinach mixture over the meat layer, leaving a ½-inch border of meat around the spinach. Top the spinach with the cheese sticks, forming a stripe in the center that runs the length of the pan. Sprinkle the pine nuts over the cheese stripe then top with the remaining meat mixture and pat down. Be sure this top layer meets with the bottom meat mixture along the sides to form a seal.
Pat the top of the loaf so it’s flat and even. Mix the mustard with the honey, then top of the loaf with this mixture.
Bake for 1 hour or until an instant-read thermometer reads 150°F when inserted in the center.