Benjen Stark’s Elk Meatballs & Shallot Gravy | Game of Thrones Inspired Recipes

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game of thrones meatball recipe

“You’re right. The wildlings are no different from us. A little rougher, maybe. But they’re made of meat and bone. I know how to track ’em and I know how to kill ’em. It’s not the wildlings giving me sleepless nights. You’ve never been north of the Wall, so don’t tell me what’s out there.”

– Benjen Stark to Tyrion Lannister

What’s Up, Hungry People

It’s Game of Thrones week in the Starving Chef’s kitchen. Diving into the depths of Westeros, I’ve emerged inspired by the stark (pun intended) landscapes north of the Wall.

For those not fully versed in the Game of Thrones saga, consider this a mild spoiler alert.

benjen stark elk recipe

In George R.R. Martin’s epic, Benjen Stark—referred to as Coldhands in the novels—rides a giant elk, contrasting his show counterpart’s dark horse. Following the elk’s demise in “A Dance with Dragons,” Coldhands sanctifies the creature, which Bran and Meera then consume. Had they not been under such harsh conditions, they might have opted for a more travel-friendly rendition: elk meatballs.

Elk meat, rich and gamey, much like venison but with a more profound taste profile, pairs wonderfully with shallots and mustard. The meatballs, bound with breadcrumbs, hoisin sauce, and eggs, strike a balance between being compact enough for travel and sufficiently satiating.

Wildlings and Night’s Watch alike would appreciate these meatballs’ portability and filling nature. Ingredients like onions, shallots, and garlic are staples beyond the Wall, often featured throughout the series.

Slow-roasted shallots and onions meld into a divine combination of sweet and savory, perfect for gravies and complementing the robust flavor of game meats. A nod to one of the earliest “Game of Thrones” scenes where Benjen and Jon Snow bond over a simple yet hearty meal, this recipe imagines a dish Benjen would savor, were he not enduring his ethereal existence as Coldhands.

To finish, the meatballs are lavished with gravy and roasted to perfection, creating a dish so comforting, it promises warmth even amidst the coldest winds north of the Wall.

This recipe, a fusion and adaptation from the Unofficial Game of Thrones Cookbook, honors Benjen Stark’s spirit, blending the practicality required for survival with the rich, immersive flavors of the North.

Here’s What You Need

  • Sweet onion: Adds sweetness and depth to the gravy.
  • Shallots: Provide a mild, sweet flavor that complements both the gravy and meatballs.
  • Black garlic: Offers a unique, umami-rich flavor to enhance the gravy.
  • Beef broth: Forms the base of the gravy, adding richness and depth.
  • Flour: Thickens the gravy to a creamy consistency.
  • Heavy cream: Adds creaminess and smooth texture to the gravy.
  • Salt & pepper: Seasoning to enhance the overall flavor of the dish.
  • Ground elk meat: The main protein, offering a rich, gamey flavor.
  • Hoisin sauce: Adds a sweet and salty tang to the meatballs.
  • Whole grain mustard: Provides tanginess and depth to the meatball mixture.
  • Egg: Binds the meatball ingredients together.
  • Panko or plain bread crumbs: Helps to bind and adds texture to the meatballs.
  • Marjoram: Adds a sweet, citrusy flavor to the meatballs.
  • Summer savory: Imparts a peppery, herbaceous flavor to the meatballs.
  • Butter: Used for searing meatballs, adding richness.
  • Olive oil: Used for roasting and searing, adding flavor.
  • Sherry or white wine: Deglazes the pan, adding depth to the gravy.
elk meatball mixture

Let’s Cook

First off, we’re going to tackle those onions and shallots. Grab your sweet onions, peel off the unnecessary layers but keep one thin layer to hold them together. Chop them in half, trim the roots, and do the same with your shallots—though, keep the shallots whole after trimming. Pop them into a baking dish, trying to keep them snug but not overcrowded. Now, take that head of black garlic, peel it, and scatter the cloves among the onions and shallots. Drizzle everything with olive oil and let the oven do its magic at 350°F for about 1.5 to 2 hours. We’re aiming for soft, caramelized perfection here.

Mixing the Meatballs

While our vegetable friends are roasting, let’s get those elk meatballs going. In a big bowl, throw in your ground elk meat, a finely chopped shallot, a good squirt of hoisin sauce, a spoonful of whole grain mustard, one egg to bind everything together, and breadcrumbs to give it structure. Don’t forget a sprinkle of marjoram and summer savory for that herby kick, plus a pinch of salt and pepper. Then, shape them into balls that are just the right size to be satisfying.

seasoning elk meat

Searing the Meatballs

Next up, heat some butter and olive oil in a skillet and get those meatballs in there. You’ll want to brown them on all sides but keep the insides almost rare. This is just the first act for these guys. Once they’re seared to golden perfection, set them aside and introduce sherry (or white wine) to the pan. This is where the magic happens: deglaze that pan, scraping up all the flavorful bits.

baking elk meatballs

Creating the Gravy

After reducing the sherry by half, pour in the beef broth and bring it to a simmer. Slowly add flour to the mix, a tablespoon at a time, until it starts thickening up to that gravy consistency. If it’s too thick, add more broth; too thin, sprinkle in a bit more flour. Finally, stir in the heavy cream to get that smooth texture we’re after.

broiling shallots and black garlic

Bringing It All Together

By now, your onions and shallots should be perfectly roasted and ready to lose their skins. Get those off and toss them out. Arrange the meatballs in the same dish, pour that rich gravy you just made all over them, and send them back to the oven. We’re looking for an internal temp of 130°F-140°F for the meatballs, which should take about 25-30 minutes. Give them a brief rest before serving to let that gravy seep in and set.

baking meatballs with shallots

Elk Meatballs & Shallot Gravy Tips

  • Roasting Onions and Shallots: Roast until soft and caramelized for maximum sweetness. This step is crucial for developing the gravy’s rich flavor profile. It’s important not to rush roasting; the longer they cook, the sweeter and more flavorful they will become.
  • Handling Elk Meat: Mix lightly to keep the meatballs tender. Overworking the meat can result in tough meatballs. Aim for a gentle mix just until the ingredients are combined.
  • Searing Meatballs: Achieve a golden crust without cooking through. This provides texture and locks in flavors, while ensuring the meatballs will not dry out during the final roast in the gravy.
  • Deglazing the Pan: Essential for capturing all the flavors. The fond (brown bits) left in the pan after searing the meatballs is packed with flavor. Using sherry or white wine not only cleans the pan but also infuses the gravy with a complex flavor profile.
  • Achieving Creamy Gravy: Add flour gradually to avoid clumps. For a smoother gravy, whisk the flour into the broth slowly, allowing it to fully integrate before adding more. If the gravy is too thick, you can thin it with additional beef broth; if too thin, a little more flour can help achieve the desired consistency.
  • Final Cooking Temperature: Use a meat thermometer to ensure perfect doneness. Elk meatballs are best enjoyed when they are cooked to 130°F-140°F, which will ensure they are juicy and flavorful. Allow the meatballs to rest before serving; this lets the juices redistribute, ensuring each bite is moist.

And there you have it, Hungry People – your very own slice of the North, no matter which side of the Wall you find yourself on tonight. With these elk meatballs and shallot gravy, you’re not just serving up dinner; you’re dishing out a piece of Westeros, rich with flavors as complex and compelling as the tales of Benjen Stark himself.

adding shallot gravy

So, pull up a chair, grab that crusty bread, and let every bite transport you to the heart of the Game of Thrones saga. Whether you’re dining with fellow fans or introducing the uninitiated to the flavors of the Seven Kingdoms, this dish is sure to keep the cold at bay and the conversations fiery.

After all, in the world of Westeros, a meal can be as mighty as a sword in forging connections.

benjen stark meatball recipe

Despite the blowing cold and howling wind, elk meatballs are filling enough to warm you through (and delicious enough you won’t want to stop eating them).

game of thrones dinner recipe idea

“You’re no ranger. Here, a man gets what he earns, when he earns it.”

– Benjen Stark to Jon Snow

*This recipe is a combination and modification of recipes found in the Unofficial Game of Thrones Cookbook.

Read the MAESTER LIST of Game of Thrones Recipes Here!

game of thrones elk meatballs

Benjen Stark’s Elk Meatballs & Shallot Gravy inspired by Game of Thrones

The Starving Chef
Indulge in a hearty Game of Thrones inspired dish featuring savory elk meatballs smothered in a rich shallot gravy.
Prep Time 2 hours 30 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 3 hours 10 minutes
Course Fictional Feasts
Cuisine Game of Thrones, Meatballs
Servings 24 meatballs



  • 2 cups sweet onion
  • 5 shallots
  • 1 head black garlic
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • ¼ cup flour
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • salt & pepper to taste


  • 16 oz ground elk meat
  • 1 shallot finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoon hoisin sauce
  • 1 tablespoon whole grain mustard
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup panko or plain bread crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons marjoram
  • 1 tablespoon summer savory
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ cup sherry or white wine
  • salt & pepper to taste


  • Preheat the oven to 350°F. Remove the loose outer layers of skin from each onion, leaving a single thin layer intact. Cut the onions in half and trim the roots off. Repeat with the shallots, trimming the roots but not cutting them in half. Place them cut side down in a baking dish so that the onions and shallots are in a single layer but touching.
  • Peel the black garlic. Disperse the cloves, whole, over the onions and shallots. Drizzle with olive oil, then place in the oven and roast for 1.5 to 2 hours.
  • In a large bowl, combine the ground elk meat, finely chopped shallot, hoisin sauce, whole grain mustard, egg, panko or plain bread crumbs, marjoram, summer savory, and salt and pepper until thoroughly mixed. Roll the mixture into inch-round balls.
  • Heat the butter and olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Working in batches, sear the meatballs on all sides but do not cook all the way through. The outsides should be golden brown but almost uncooked in the center. Set the seared meatballs aside.
  • Pour the sherry or white wine into the skillet to deglaze, scraping up the brown bits. Let the liquid reduce by half, then add the beef broth. Bring to a simmer, then gradually stir in the flour, 1-2 tablespoons at a time, until the broth has visibly thickened. Adjust thickness by adding more broth if too thick or more flour if too thin. Then, stir in the heavy cream as necessary to achieve a creamy gravy consistency.
  • Once the onions and shallots are roasted and soft to the touch of a fork, with skins that can be easily removed, discard the skins.
  • Place the seared meatballs in the same dish as the roasted onions and shallots. Pour the gravy over the meatballs. Return to the oven and continue to cook for another 25-30 minutes, until the meatballs reach an internal temperature of 130°F-140°F.
  • Let the meatballs rest for 5 minutes before serving to allow the gravy to set. Serve on a large platter with crusty bread for enjoyment.
Keyword elk, Game of Thrones, meatballs
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