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 Pasta Sauce
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 recipe features 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 lovely 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.
Frequently Asked Questions
What cut of venison should I use?
You want something from the shoulder or leg because it is ideal for long slow 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 banknote.
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.
What is “streaky” bacon?
This is a question asked a lot by visitors to my site from the US. Streaky bacon is what you guys call… want for it… bacon!
Back bacon or what you guys know as Canadian bacon, is the norm here.
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.
There are all sorts of conventions 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 wide flat 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?
I only mention brands of equipment if I think that they make a material difference to a recipe. But if you have any questions feel free to ask them in the comments section below the recipe.
- 24cm or 11″ ovenproof saucepan with a lid or Dutch oven.
- Kitchen tongs.
- Stirring and serving spoons.
- Forks for shredding the meat.
- Small mixing bowl.
- Kettle to boil the water to soak the mushrooms.
- Chopping board.
- Kitchen knife.
- Weighing scales and or measuring jug, cups and spoons.
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) Venison
- 75g (2½ oz) Smoked Streaky Bacon
- 75g (½ Cup) Onion
- 50g (⅓ Cup) Celery
- 75g (½ Cup) Carrot
- 2 Anchovy Fillets
- 10 Juniper Berries
- 2 Tbsp Tomato Puree
- 250ml (1 Cup) Red Wine
- 10g (¼-⅓ Cup) Dried Porcini Mushrooms
- 125ml (½ Cup) Boiling Water
- 1 Bay Leaf
- 1 Tsp Cooking Oil
- ¼ Tsp Salt plus more to taste
- ¼ Tsp Black Pepper
- Pour the boiling water over the dried mushrooms and allow them to soak.
- Cut the bacon into a 5-6mm (¼) thick strips.
- Heat the oil in a heavy-based 24cm or 10" saucepan or Dutch oven and cook the bacon over a medium heat for 10 minutes.
- Cut the onion in half, peel it and then cut it into a 2-3mm (⅛") dice.
- Season the venison with the salt and pepper.
- Push the bacon to one side, add the venison, and sear the venison on both sides.
- Remove the venison and add the diced vegetables along with the anchovy fillets and juniper berries.
- Stir and cook until the onions go "glassy" which should take 5-10 minutes.
- Turn the heat up to high and pour in the red wine and deglaze the pan, scraping away any residue stuck to the bottom of the pan.
- Add the tomato puree, the liquid from the dried mushrooms stir and turn off the heat.
- Chop the soaked mushrooms and add them to the pan with the bay leaf and mushroom soaking juices, then add the venison.
- Stir everything together and coat the venison in the sauce and add a lid, then transfer to the oven.
- Cook at 150°C or 300°F for 2 hours.
- Remove from the oven and place on the stovetop on a medium heat.
- Take off the lid, then remove and shred the venison.
- Before you add the venison back to the pan remove the juniper berries and bay leaf.
- Stir through the venison and serve.
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.