An invasive species originating from China, introduced in the UK in early 20th century. Now widespread, particularly in South and Central England. Increasing numbers of road accidents caused by muntjac and overgrazing of woodland floors are two main concerns.

With no close season and a very manageable sized carcass, they are an ideal deer species for home cooking. In general, muntjac’s meat is sweet and not overly strong, making it perfect for family meals. Below are two recipes for two different cuts of meat.

Muntjac meatballs in tomato sauce

Muntjac meatballs

A classic meatball recipe that works well with muntjac, the sauce can be made well ahead of time and it also works well with pasta for a main course.

Serves: 4 


  • 200g muntjac mince
  • 100g pork mince
  • 2 small brown onions, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 rosemary sprig, finely chopped
  • 40g parmesan, finely grated
  • natural breadcrumbs
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 400g tomato passata
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4 large basil sprigs
  • 1tbs brown sugar
  • 2tbs red wine vinegar
  • olive oil


  1. Sweat off 2 garlic cloves, 1 onion and the bay leaf with a pinch of salt in olive oil over a low heat until soft.
  2. Strip the basil stalks, saving the leaves for later, and add the stalks in, along with the tomato passata, vinegar and sugar.
  3. Bring to a medium heat and cook for 15 minutes to thicken the sauce. Stir regularly to ensure it does not stick to the bottom of the pan.
  4. Allow to cool and remove the bay leaf and basil stalks. Check seasoning and adjust to taste.
  5. For the meatballs, sweat off the remaining onion, garlic and rosemary in olive oil over a medium heat with a pinch of salt and pepper until soft.
  6. Allow to cool and add to a mixing bowl with the two minces, grated parmesan, egg yolk and breadcrumbs.
  7. Add a good twist of black pepper to the meat and mix well.
  8. Preheat your oven to 200°C while you shape the meat mixture into 30g meatballs.
  9. Place on a lightly oiled, snug-fitting oven tray.
  10. Place the meatballs into the hot oven and roast for 8 minutes or until brown.
  11. Turn the temperature down to 150°C, remove the meatballs from the oven and discard any fat.
  12. Pour the tomato sauce over the meatballs, cover with tin foil and put back in the oven for 10 minutes to allow the meatballs to braise in the sauce.
  13. To serve, remove the tray from oven, skewer the meatballs with mini skewers and arrange on the plate with half the basil leaves to garnish.
  14. Chop the remaining basil leaves and stir into the tomato sauce to serve in a pot as a dipping sauce for the meatballs.

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