Rich and comforting, this simple Venison Bolognese recipe is great over any type of pasta you choose.
Venison is the magical meat gift that seems to just keep on giving. After participating in my first hunt, I ended up with a freezer full of self-harvested meat (which incidentally is a great feeling) and thus a challenge on how to use it in a variety of dishes. Sure, a harvest yields a few prized whole muscles like tenderloin and backstrap, but predominantly you end up with a heck of a lot of ground meat. The very first dish I made with that meat, even before cooking the loins, was this venison bolognese. It was exactly the comfort food I craved after a weekend out in the field.
Even if you don’t harvest it yourself, Venison is a great protein to introduce to your regular diet because it’s so lean. You should always try and order your beef steaks as marbled as you possibly can, and just balance with other leaner red meat meals like this (or bison) – that’s how you can have a sustainable carnivores diet, IMHO! Anyway, not to get all preachy on you, but the point is, not only is this recipe delicious, it’s actually quite good for you in terms of being low-fat and having a couple of veggies thrown in, too.
Because it’s so lean, Venison doesn’t really suit things like burger patties, but a slow braise in a rich tomato sauce keeps it moist – as long as you keep it saucy enough when reducing it. In fact, the only “tough” part about this whole recipe, is choosing which type of pasta you’re going to serve it with! For the record, I love classic spaghetti, but twisted and hollow noodles designed to capture chunky sauces are really perfect for this one.
1 28oz/800g can of tomatoes (preferably San Marzano)
2 tbsp tomato paste
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp fresh thyme (stems removed)
2 tsp oregano
1 bunch fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
2 c beef or chicken broth
1 c red wine (see note 1)
Salt (see note 2)
In a heavy based large pot, brown the venison in batches, using about half the olive oil. It’s important to not overcrowd the pan, so the meat browns instead of stews, and to lightly salt each batch as you go. Remove to a bowl once browned.
Add remaining olive oil to the same pan, and brown the onions over medium heat. Once translucent, add carrots, celery, thyme and oregano and cook until vegetables have just softened.
Return browned venison to the pan, add tomato paste, salt and stir well to combine. Allow to cook one minute.
Add in canned tomatoes, parsley, stock and wine, and stir to combine. Use a wooden spoon to break up tomatoes if necessary.
Reduce heat to low and simmer for 1-2 hours until sauce has reduced to desired thickness. You can add salt right before serving if needed.
Spoon onto your favorite pasta and top with parmesan cheese if desired.
Note 1: If you prefer not to use wine, just substitute an extra cup of stock.
Note 2: The amount of salt is not specified because it depends greatly on which brand and type you are using. Simply salt to your preferred taste. Remember, it’s better to be conservative about the salt you add in – you can always add more at the end, but you can’t take it out!