Food Fight Friday: Ground Meat Gridiron

Spackle Spaghetti and Meatballs vs. Venison Sloppy Joe

Looking back on the short history of Food Fight Friday, something seems to be missing--or at least be in short supply. We seem to have gotten caught up in some of the finer things you can put on a plate, while giving America's meat short shrift. I would wager that at least 75 percent of what venison hunters eat comes in the form of ground meat: burgers, chili, tacos, or as we have here, meatballs, which I've put against a Sloppy Joe from Field & Stream's video editor, Michael Shea.
David's Carl Spackle Spaghetti and Meatballs**

I don't know about you, but every time I hear the word meatballs, I think of Bill Murray's turn as camp counselor Tripper in the classic 1979 summer camp movie Meatballs. It's a short jump from there to his defining role as Carl Spackler in Caddyshack. So, whenever I make up a batch of venison meatballs, I automatically fall into my best (though still not very good) impersonation of the "greenskeeper turned Masters champion" and run through every Caddyshack quote I can remember as I'm mixing and rolling. "So I got that goin' for me, which is nice."

Michael Shea's Venison Sloppy Joe

There was a time in my life when a Sloppy Joe was the only thing I knew how to cook. That's changed some, but I still find myself going back to this college staple, especially at the end of a long day when the last thing I want to do is cook. Put a little oil in the pan, brown the venison hamburger, add ketchup or, in this case, barbeque sauce. Here I used Sweet Baby Ray's, which is pretty good and, oddly, in stock at my neighborhood bodega. While the meat was cooking, I boiled down some leftover holiday cranberries with a splash of orange juice, brown sugar and a healthy dumping of sugar. I topped the Sloppy Joe with shredded gruyere. It was fast. It was easy. It was delicious.

If you think you've got the chops to take on a Carl Spackler hybrid-cross or another delicious-looking fish or wild game dish, send your best food photo to