Is there anyone out there who doesn’t like meatballs? Especially homemade meatballs?! I admit: it’s time consuming to make a batch, but if you cook 100  (especially if you’re baking them) and freeze them it’s worth your while. Then, when you need some, whether for lunch or dinner, they’re ready to go.

 I’ve experimented with meatballs many times, but I’ve never made them          with elk—until now. In fact, I’ve never cooked elk. But I found some ground  elk at Sprouts a couple weeks ago frozen for $7.99/lb. and bought a  package. Game meat is much leaner than beef, and free of hormones and  other artificial growth stimulants, so I thought it was worth a try. But  because I thought it might be too gamey for the kids, I mixed it with grass-  fed ground beef. Half and half.

Then, I stumbled upon a recipe for mozzarella-stuffed elk meatballs. My    first response? Ewww. It reminded me too much of Pizza Hut’s ads for    cheese-stuffed pizza crusts. You could feel a heart attack coming on just watching the commercial. But then, I conceded that I don’t know much about cooking wild game, unlike the folks at the site dedicated to wild-game recipes. Besides, those little mozzarella pearls are so tasty on their own. I decided to make half the batch plain and the other half with mozzarella.

You know what? They were really, really scrumptious. The cheese was nice and soft in the center, and the meat just fell apart in your mouth.The funny thing is, my husband and I liked the mozzarella ones and the kids didn’t. And S and C weren’t put off by the slight gaminess. In fact, S told me she preferred them over my usual meatballs. You know what? I did, too. I see elk in our future.

As for the recipe, I combined a few different ones I’ve tried in the past. In a nutshell, it includes the ground meat (you can combine beef, pork, turkey, veal, elk, bison, etc.), sautéed onions and garlic with rosemary, thyme and oregano; eggs; breadcrumbs soaked in milk; finely chopped parsley; grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese; and, of course, salt and pepper. If you want to try the mozzarella-stuffed version, simply mold the meat around the pearl.

You know what else is great about meatballs? They are so versatile. The possibilities are endless. For today, S got some meatballs with marinara sauce and a piece of olive bread.

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