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A lot of people in my town hunt. I think they expect me to be against hunting, due to my hippie stance on other issues, like recycling and reducing waste. (The blue recycle bin is right next to the trash can, so what possible reason could you have for not recycling paper? And what’s with drinking your daily coffee out of Styrofoam cups?) But, assuming it’s carefully controlled, and in my area it is, I’m pro-hunting. I’d rather eat animals that lived their lives outside doing animal things than stuffing themselves in a feedlot.

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That being said, I don’t want to do it myself. There is the issue of whether I could actually bring myself to kill a beautiful creature, and I really don’t know how that would go. But moreover, I have plenty of hobbies as it is and don’t need to take up another. But if someone wanted to bring me venison, that would be okay.

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And someone has! Twice, my coworker has brought me ground venison. We made burgers with the first pound, and for the second pound, I took his suggestion to make kofta. I’d never had it before, but it was so obviously something I’d like, with the mix of meat, savory seasonings, and warm spices, not to mention tzatziki and grilled pita. (Incidentally, I brought my coworker two pounds of Tartine country bread dough to thank him for the meat – and encourage him to give me more!)

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Lean venison is perfect in kofta because the addition of bread helps the meatballs hold onto moisture. Plus, lamb is the traditional main ingredient, and both meats are often considered gamey. Dave and I love that gamey flavor, and it just gets better when it’s liberally seasoned with herbs and spices. And everything is better with grilled pita and tzatziki. I suspect I’ll be making this meal with lamb in the future, because my desire for kofta will surely outrun my uncertain supply of venison.

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One year ago: Rhubarb Crumb Coffee Cake
Two years ago: Pickled Coleslaw
Three years ago: Sausage and Red Pepper Hash

Printer Friendly Recipe
Kofta (adapted from Gourmet via Smitten Kitchen)

The original recipe includes grilled chunks of marinated zucchini, but I didn’t think they added anything special to this.

Grilling meatballs on skewers is a hair-raising experience, but they turned out great and we only lost one on the grill. Just be careful and try not to move them around much.

I grilled some onions to add to the sandwiches, because you can’t go wrong with grilled onions.

2 slices firm sandwich bread, torn into small pieces
1 small onion, finely chopped (about 1 cup)
¼ cup loosely packed fresh parsley leaves
¼ cup loosely packed fresh cilantro leaves
16 ounces ground lamb
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground allspice
½ teaspoon cayenne
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon black pepper
⅓ cup pine nuts, toasted and finely chopped

1. Pulse the bread, onion, and herbs in a food processor until finely chopped. The juice from the onion should start to soak into the bread, and the mixture will form a paste. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and mix with all of the remaining ingredients except the tzatziki. With your hands, mix until well blended. Form one tablespoon of the mixture into a ball; repeat with the remaining mixture to make about 24 meatballs.

2. Prepare a medium-hot grill. Thread meatballs onto skewers, leaving about ¼-inch between each. Generously oil the grill rack. Grill lamb, turning over once, until golden and just cooked through, about 6 minutes. Serve warm with tzatziki and grilled pitas.

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  1. My one and only attempt at making koftas – something I adore! – was a big failure. THe koftas disintegrated during grilling, making a huge mess, and we barely had enough to eat from what survived the ordeal

    I should re-visit the recipe, using yours, something was definitely off with the one I used, years ago

    nice post!

  2. I am a little surprised that your CW suggested kofta. Anyway, I’d be scared that the kofta would fall apart while grilling but it looks like it held on beautifully. Love the addition of grilled onions.

  3. I never would’ve thought of using ground venison in kofta, but it’s a great idea! I love kofta in spicy tomato sauce, and I usually put currants in mine. I hadn’t thought to eat them like a gyro though- definitely will be trying this once deer season fills our freezer!

  4. I was looking for a kofta recipe for our next supper club night! So glad I can use yours! 🙂

  5. I have a freezer full of venison and need to use it because hunting season is upon us. I don’t hunt, but several people hunt on our property and share venison with us. Kofta looks like a delicious way to prepare it! 🙂

  6. we went out for Syrian food this weekend and my husband got some beef kofta–it was delicious! I’ll have to try making it sometime, thanks for the recipe!

  7. yes, we are totally thinking alike… I want this now!

  8. This looks really delicious. We have a bunch of grassfed beef in the freezer, with a strong flavor that would probably go well in this recipe. I think I might bake rather than grill them, though, cause I’m chicken 🙂

  9. Finally tried this tonight with our surplus of ground venison. I forgot to get pine nuts so I subbed pecans because those were the nuts we had on hand. SO good.