Wapiti Meatballs

I like to think of myself as adventurous, at least in the kitchen. I may draw the line at some things, particularly bugs but for the most part I am open to try most things. Over the years I have eaten an array of dishes which to some may seem disgusting and may well make them squeamish. I have tasted pig brain, crispy snake, duck tongue ( a dish I will never, ever forget!), fish eyes, ostrich and more that I cannot fully remember or did not know what it was for sure.

Living in Canada ( have I ever said that I live in Canada?) there have been opportunities to try moose, bison, rabbit, and wapiti (elk). Elk may not be readily available here, but you can find it at certain restaurants, such as the one I ate at in Quebec City last year. It is on the safer side of odd foods I have eaten but still not as normal as beef or chicken. I was highly pleased with it. I was served elk in a stew or was it the meat pie? Either way is a traditional way to serve it in Quebec.

It was hearty, filling and aromatic. I have been wracking my brain trying to figure out how to describe the taste and flavour elk has, but so far have come up short. Lean is the main word I associate with elk, not gamey. Maybe fresh, and a bit smokey or spicy would also do to describe the flavours. Raw elk does have a pungent smell, not bad but you can notice it.

While I was out I came across an “exotic meat” section of a grocery store and began to look through the packages. There was crocodile, moose, duck, haggis, and of course elk. I found a nice sized frozen package of ground elk and decided to buy it. Not until yesterday did I actually find a use for it. This recipe actually comes to me through my mother so credit and thanks to her for suggesting it.

My mother suggested I make meatballs out of the ground elk. She pointed me in the direction of a few recipes she had come across which she believed would go well with elk. Finally I decided to do an Asian- Quebec Frech fusion twist on the meatballs. Flavours like sesame oil and soy sauce are used, but also plums to create a sweet tangy sauce to pour over the meatballs.


In many ways this recipe is very traditional and old-fashioned. Plums would have been used in numerous Quebecois and Asian recipes, as they are still done today. I chose to serve the meatballs with new potato wedges tossed in some paprika, and simple vegetable from the garden (mostly). Although I pointed out what vegetable I used to make this dish, feel free to change any of them for ones you prefer.

If you would prefer to not use elk this recipe can be used with basically any other type of meat, or make them vegetarian and used mashed lentils or black beans.

Wapiti Meatballs
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 12-15 Balls
  • 1 Pound ground elk
  • 2-3 Red plums, pitted, and roughly chopped
  • 2 Cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Cup water
  • 1-2 Tbsp rice vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp white sugar, coconut sugar also works
  • 1 Tsp ground or fresh ginger, minced
  • ⅓ Cup oats, coarsely grounded
  • 1 Egg or egg replacement
  • 1 Tbsp light soy sauce
  • 2-3 Carrots, julienne
  • 1 Cup packed kale, I recommend Lacinato (Dino) kale, chopped roughly
  • 1 Onion, sliced
  • 4- 6 Garlic scapes
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 8-10 New potatoes, cut into wedges
  • 2 Tsp Salt
  • 1 Tbsp Paprika
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Toss potato wedges in olive oil and half the paprika and salt.
  3. Lay wedges out on a baking sheet and cook for 20 minutes.
  4. Add plums, water, rice vinegar, garlic, ginger and sugar to medium sized pot. Bring to a boil, once bubbling turn down to simmer uncovered. Stir once in awhile.
  5. Combine elk, egg, soy sauce and oats together. Form into balls, almost the size of golf balls. Place on parchment lined tray and chill in refrigerator for 10 minutes.
  6. Heat vegetable oil in a skillet and add onions. Cook until onions become translucent and start to brown. Add in carrots. Cook covered for 5 minutes on medium-low heat.
  7. Add in garlic scapes and kale, cover with lid and cook for another 10 minutes.
  8. Remove from heat and set aside.
  9. By now potatoes should be golden on one side, take the tray out and turn wedges over to cook a further 15 minutes.
  10. Take meatballs out of refrigerator and put them in the skillet. Brown all sides, then put them in oven to finish cooking for 10 minutes.
  11. Once potato wedges are done toss in more paprika salt before serving.
  12. Remove skillet from oven and add the vegetables back in with the meatballs and spoon ½ the plum sauce over meatballs. Serve immediately with any remaining sauce on the side.


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