Your game doesn’t get much tastier than in this slow cooked, rich ragu. It’s versatile (we used venison) and it’s just complicated enough to impress. Perfect recipe for a weekend at home, featuring simple ingredients and the most plentiful wild game meat.
- 2 lbs boneless venison or elk roast
- 6 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 cup pancetta, chopped
- 1 carrot, finely chopped
- 1 celery stick, finely chopped
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, chopped
- 2 bay leaves, 2 thyme sprigs, 1 rosemary sprig, bundled and tied with string
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp peppercorns (or ground pepper)
- 1/4 cup tomato paste
- 2 cups red wine
- 2 cups whole milk
- 2 cups fresh egg tagliatelle
- 3 tbsp unsalted butter
- Freshly grated parmesan to serve
1) Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Season the venison well with salt and pepper, put in a roasting pan and drizzle with 3 tbsp olive oil. Roast for 1 hour until well browned outside and more or less cooked. Remove from the oven and let cool, reserving the roasting juices.
2) Add the pancetta, along with the remaining oil in a heavy dutch oven over medium heat. Cook for 5-6 minutes until the pancetta starts to crisp and the fat is released, then mix in the chopped vegetables, garlic, herbs, mixed spice and tomato purée. Turn the heat to low and cook gently for 20 minutes until tender.
3) Dice the roast venison into roughly 1 inch cubes. Add the meat to the tender vegetables in the pan and mix together. Raise the heat to high and fry for 10 minutes until some of the meat starts to brown at the edges. Add the roasting juices, beef stock and milk.
4) Bring to a simmer, cover with the lid slightly ajar, then cook gently over low heat for around 3 hours, stirring every so often. It’s ready when the oil collects on the surface, the meat is very tender and the gravy has thickened. At the end of cooking, season with salt and pepper to taste.
5) Cook the pasta in well salted water. Drain, reserving a little of the cooking water, then add the pasta to the ragù, along with the butter. Add just enough of the reserved cooking water to loosen the sauce slightly. Serve with shaved parmesan.