Super Bowl Snack: Venison Boudin Balls

When I was in Louisiana a few weeks back hunting with some folks from Ducks Unlimited and learning about the severe loss of marshlands and habitat in region, DU web editor Chris Jennings and I snuck out one afternoon to find some oysters. Unfortunately, we struck out on that hunt when the workers at the oyster house told us they didn't have any on hand.

Not to be deterred in our efforts to eat local, we picked up some boudin balls from the grocer that had apparently been under the heat lamp for awhile as they were all but inedible (but we ate most of them anyway). That shouldn't stop you from trying to make your own however, as I've since discovered these fried orbs of sausage, liver and rice are incredibly delicious when fresh. I made these from some boudin I smuggled home from Cochon Butcher (LINK: http://www.cochonbutcher.com/) in New Orleans, but you can just as easily make them yourself following this recipe to add a little bon temps to your Super Bowl party.

Venison Boudin Balls

-1 ½ lbs. venison shoulder, cut into 1-inch pieces
-½ lb. pork butt, cut into 1 inch pieces
-½ lb. chicken livers (If you've got game bird livers, even better.) 2 stalks celery, diced; 1 medium yellow onion, chopped; 1 green bell pepper, chopped
-4 cloves garlic, minced 2 tbs. salt
-1 tbs. black pepper
-1 tsp. cayenne pepper 1 tsp. paprika
-2 cups white rice, cooked 2 jalapeños, seeds and stems removed, chopped 2 green onions, chopped 1/2 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
-3 cups panko crumbs
-Canola oil, for frying

In a tub or large mixing bowl, combine venison, pork, livers, vegetables and seasoning. Stir until seasonings are incorporated, then place in refrigerator for at least one hour, or up to overnight.

Transfer meat and vegetable mixture to large pot and add water to cover by 1 to 2 inches. Place over high heat and bring water just to the boiling point. Lower heat and let simmer until meat is tender, 1 to 2 hours.

When meat is tender, remove from heat and drain, reserving cooking liquid.

Once the meat-vegetable mixture has sufficiently cooled, grind using a coarse blade, or mince in a food processor.

Add rice, jalapenos, green onion, parsley and 1 cup of cooking liquid. Using a spatula or hands, mix thoroughly. Add additional cooking liquid in small amounts, as necessary until the mixture becomes sticky and moist (but not wet).

Place panko crumbs in a pie plate or other wide, flat dish.

Using your hands, form sausage mixture into balls just a bit smaller than a golf ball. Roll the balls in the panko until they are covered and transfer to a wire baking rack.

Add oil to a Dutch oven or deep cast-iron skillet to a depth of at least 2 inches. Heat oil over medium-high heat to a temperature of 350°.

Add boudin balls to the oil in batches, being careful not to crowd the pan and send the oil temperature plunging. Fry about 1 minute or until balls are heated through. Transfer to a paper-towel lined plate set in a warm oven. Bring the oil back up to temperature and fry remaining balls.

Enjoy as is or with a spicy Cajun remoulade.