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Venison Ragu Perfect with Pasta

Venison ragu, a rich and bold meat sauce perfect for stirring through pasta, serving on polenta, or even dolloping on jacket potatoes!

The sauce features classic venison accompaniments like red wine, bacon and juniper, it also gets an umami boost from dried mushrooms and anchovy.

Venison ragu sauce served with pappardelle pasta in a blue bowl.

Venison Ragout.

A ragu is a typically meat based sauce often served with pasta and my site is littered with them.

Of course the most common is ragu alla bolognese. But I take a very liberal approach to a ragu as is quite common, and I use a whole host of meats.

This wild venison ragu joins ones made with rabbit, duck, lamb, and wild boar in a series of game based pasta sauces.

Ragus “should” be a “meat” based sauce rather than a tomato based sauce. Although I do have a vegetarian mushroom ragu.

This recipe features with big and bold flavours that all work wonderfully alongside gamey venison. We have juniper, anchovies and dried porcini mushrooms.

We season with bacon and cook it all in a nice red wine-based sauce, it’s almost like a shredded venison bolognese. In many ways, this dish is very similar to my beef cheek ragu recipe.

Overhead rich venison ragu sauce served with pappardelle pasta in a blue bowl.

Frequently Asked Questions.

What cut of venison should I use?

You want something from the shoulder or leg because it takes well too long cooking. It also shreds really well!

If you are in the US then it may very well just be labelled as venison roast apparently. Have a chat with your butcher and try and get an offcut.

Do I have to use dried mushrooms?

Yes, they are almost like a seasoning element in this dish and provide an umami earthy backnote.

To get the same effect with regular mushrooms you would add a large textural element, you would also need to use a lot which would fundamentally change the dish.

Try to use dried porcini if you can, but if not experiment with some other dried shrooms the preparation method will be identical. Just soak them in boiling water for a while.

A word of caution!

Be careful with your seasoning in this recipe, especially if you are serving it with pasta!

The bacon combined with the pasta can potentially overwhelm the dish with salt if you go too heavy with salt elsewhere.

I stick to just seasoning the meat before searing. I do taste the sauce around halfway through the cooking time and add more if necessary.

Close up rich venison ragu sauce served with pappardelle pasta.

Serving Suggestions.

There are all sorts of conventions or surrounding what sort of pasta works best with different types of sauce.

I tend to feel my way around, this thickly shredded game ragu is served with pappardelle pasta.

The flat wide strips of pasta grab hold of the sauce and large chunks of venison and holds it really well. The large shreds of venison are a perfect starting point to skewer before you twirl up the pasta.

But it would work just as well with everything from tagliatelle to fettuccine and even linguini.

It would also be awesome with orecchiette which is how I serve my similarly shredded pork ragu.

But don’t get tunnel vision here, this deer ragu recipe is awesome served over cheesy polenta.

Or how about ladled over a baked potato, maybe even the filling of a proper hardcore sandwich!

Shredded venison ragu sauce served with pappardelle pasta.
Yield: 2 Servings

Venison Ragu Recipe

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours 55 minutes
Total Time: 3 hours

Pasta in a big and bold meat sauce is my idea of heaven and this venison ragu ticks all of those boxes, it may take a while to cook but it is simple and outrageously good.


  • 250g (9 oz)
  • 75g (2.5 oz) Smoked Bacon
  • 75g (1/2 Cup) Onion
  • 50g (1/3 Cup) Celery
  • 75g (1/2 Cup) Carrot
  • 2 Anchovy Fillets
  • 10 Juniper Berries
  • 2 Tbsp Tomato Puree
  • 250ml (1 Cup) Red Wine
  • 10g Dried Porcini Mushrooms
  • 125ml (1/2 Cup) Boiling Water
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • 1 Tsp Oil
  • Salt to taste
  • Back Pepper to taste


  1. Cut the bacon into a 5mm dice.
  2. Pour the boiling water over the dried mushrooms and allow them to soak.
  3. Heat the oil in a heavy based pan and when hot cook the bacon over a medium heat for 10 minutes.
  4. Cut the onion, celery and carrot into a 2-4mm dice.
  5. Season the venison with a little salt and lots of pepper.
  6. Push the bacon to one side and add the venison and sear the venison on both sides.
  7. Remove the venison add the diced vegetables along with the anchovy fillets and juniper berries.
  8. Stir and cook until the onions go "glassy" which should take 5-10 minutes.
  9. Turn the heat up to high and pour in the red wine and deglaze the pan, scraping away any residue.
  10. Add the tomato puree, the liquid from the dried mushrooms stir and turn off the heat.
  11. Chop the dried soaked mushrooms and add them to the pan with the bay leaf and add the venison.
  12. Stir everything together and coat the venison in the sauce and add a lid, then transfer to the oven.
  13. Cook at 150°C or 300°F for 2 hours.
  14. Remove from the oven and place on the stovetop on a medium heat.
  15. Take off the lid, then remove and shred the venison.
  16. Before you add the venison back to the pan remove the juniper berries and bay leaf.
  17. Stir through the venison and serve.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 571Total Fat: 20gSaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 12gCholesterol: 139mgSodium: 1198mgCarbohydrates: 21gFiber: 6gSugar: 5gProtein: 54g

Calorific details are provided by a third-party application and are to be used as indicative figures only.

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