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  • Writer's pictureDonna

Elk Meatballs with Blueberry Merlot Sauce

Updated: Apr 25, 2023

Elk meatballs with ricotta cheese ravioli and a sweet and savory blueberry Merlot sauce

Elk meatballs with blueberry merlot sauce

One of my husbands favorite meals (from a restaurant years ago) is elk tenderloin with blueberry Merlot sauce. Since elk tenderloin isn't something I can find at a local market, when I found ground elk at the store, I decided to make a his favorite dish in a meatball format. I served it with homemade ravioli that I made awhile ago and froze them. The ravioli are filled with homemade ricotta cheese with thyme and lemon zest. The two flavor combos were amazing. The creaminess of the cheese with its bright flavors perfectly balanced the dish. I will post how to make the ricotta soon.

You can also serve the meatballs over polenta, pasta, or even mashed potatoes or cauliflower.

Elk Meatballs with Blueberry Merlot Sauce



  • 1 lb ground elk (or lean ground beef)

  • 1/2 shallot finely minced (or 1-2 cloves of garlic)

  • 1 tbsp finely chopped fresh rosemary (remove the leaves from the stems)

  • 2 tsp fresh thyme leaves (remove leaves from the stems)

  • 1 tsp black pepper

  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)

  • 1 egg

  • 1/2 c fine bread crumbs

  • 1 1/2 tbsp balsamic vinegar

  • 1 tbsp of olive oil

  • 8 oz of fresh mushrooms

Blueberry Merlot Sauce

  • 1 c fresh blueberries

  • 2 c Merlot

  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter

  • 2 tsp flour

  • 1/2 shallot finely minced

  • 1 bay leaf

  • 1 sprig of fresh rosemary

  • 2 sprigs of fresh thyme

  • 1 tsp lemon juice


  1. Preheat to 375°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Elk is very lean and will stick to the pan and the parchment paper stops that from happening.

  2. Combine breadcrumbs, balsamic vinegar and olive oil in a small bowl and set aside.

  3. In a medium bowl, combine meat, shallots, rosemary, thyme, black pepper, egg, red pepper flakes, and the moistened bread crumbs from step 2. Make meatballs: I use a small cookie scoop to make even size meat balls and shape them in my hands. Place on baking sheet and cook for 25 minutes at 375°F.

  4. In a small sauce pan, make the sauce. Melt the butter and saute the the shallots over medium heat until they shallots are translucent. Add the blueberries and flour. Stir to mix. Add the Merlot, balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, and the herbs (tied in a bundle for easy removal). Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cook until reduced by half. Remove herb bundle. Use an immersion blender to crush the blueberries. Continue simmering until it thickens an coats a spoon. HINT: If you have difficulty getting it to thicken, you can add a slurry of cornstarch and water (1 tsp cornstarch and 1 tbsp water).

  5. In a large skillet, cook mushrooms on medium heat in 1 tbsp of olive oil and 1/4 c of water until cooked through and moisture is gone. Add cooked meatballs and sauce. Bring to a simmer. Turn meat balls occasionally to coat all sides. Cook for 3-5 minutes.

  6. Serve over pasta or polenta or mashed cauliflower or potatoes. Top with grated parmesan or grana padana cheese and any remaining chopped rosemary. Don't forget to serve it with a glass or two of the remaining Merlot.

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