I’m always looking for ways to use unseasoned ground venison. Here’s a fun little appetizer that turns some of that ubiquitous ground into a plate of addicting morsels. I combine tomato paste, olives, and lots of Italian-style cheeses and herbs to make these crustless pizza bites. Yeah, I know I call them stuffed mushrooms, but they have the flavor profile of pizza. Prepping and cooking these is very easy — just make sure you bake them in a cast iron skillet or dark metal baking pan, otherwise the mushrooms will get soggy.
2-3 pounds large white, crimini, or baby portabella mushrooms, whole.
1 pound ground venison
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. onion powder
1/4 tsp. dried thyme
3/4 tsp. fennel seed
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. dried basil
3-4 cloves garlic, crushed
3 oz tomato paste
1/2 can petite diced tomatoes (strained well), approximate 7 oz.
1/2 cup chopped green onion
1 can sliced black olives (drained), about 4 oz
1 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
1 cup Italian 3 cheese blend (parmesan, Romano, asiago)
1/4 cup Italian breadcrumbs
Also works with
Any ground wild game
Cast iron skillet, pellet grill
- Preheat oven to 375 F.
- Remove the stems from the caps of the mushrooms. Finely dice the stems and set aside. Place the caps on a paper towel, stem side down, to remove any additional moisture.
- Press 1/2 can of tomatoes through a strainer, pressing down with the bottom of a bowl or a large spoon to remove as much moisture as possible.
- Mix the raw ground venison with the dried spices. Add the egg, tomato paste, and vinegar. Mix well. Stir in the garlic, green onions, olives, diced mushroom stems, mozzarella and Italian blend cheese. Lastly, mix in the Italian bread crumbs.
- Stuff the mushroom caps with a large spoonful of the meat mix (about 3/4 the size of the mushroom).
- Bake in a dark metal pan or cast iron skillet for approximately 20 to 25 minutes depending on the size of mushroom. Enjoy!
Feature image via Bryan Gregson