This venison Bolognese differs from the classic in just one way: the choice of meat. Here ground venison, not beef, is gently simmered with vegetables, wine, milk, and broth for hours to coax it into tender submission. Pasta was never so happy.
As with any Bolognese, this gently simmered braise of carrots, onion, celery, mushrooms, and meat melds into a ridiculously rich, creamy sauce that’s nothing short of sigh-inducing bliss when piled atop pasta or polenta. This rendition teases lean venison into tender submission. Set aside a Sunday afternoon, gather your friends, and settle in for a feast. Or keep it all for yourself and enjoy the leftovers all week. No judgement here.–Angie Zoobkoff
- Quick Glance
- 35 M
- 3 H, 45 M
- Serves 8
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Recipe Testers Reviews
This venison Bolognese sauce is a wonderful way to use ground game meat of any kind.
This is something to save and savor on a weekend. The process from start to finish is a four to five hour process after all. The reward is an addictively rich sauce with overtones of game flavour (I used farm-raised elk) present but pleasantly so. For those new to cooking with game, this dish isn’t overwhelming with the rich mineral flavor that some game dishes can have, especially if using meat from farm-raised animals.
The layers of flavor created in a savory meat sauce is traditionally served with tagliatelle but I had the penne, which the author uses in his presentation. I feel it’s a better choice, too. The resulting pasta was served at the table with Pecorino Romano.
This venison Bolognese is a great “Sunday supper” dish! It does take some time to make but much of that time is hands-off so you can go about your business and just check the sauce every once in a while.
I kept the sauce simmering on medium-low and checked in on it every 15 minutes or so at the beginning and then every 10 minutes towards the end.
The finished sauce falls somewhere between a traditional pasta sauce consistency and that of a ragu—really rich and meaty but at the same time still moist and saucy enough to coat the pasta. The sauce itself is mellow, meaty, and rich with the woodsy flavor of porcini mushrooms. I had never cooked with ground venison before and was surprised to see that it had a very different texture from beef. The meat is almost creamy and more gelatinous than I had expected and it adds an unctuous quality to the Bolognese.
This is quite rich—a little sauce goes a long way. I served it on cavatelli pasta but I think that any chunky pasta with ridges to hold the sauce would work well. Served with a salad of curly endive dressed with a sharp vinaigrette dressing to foil the heaviness of the pasta. Molto Italiano!
The next day I used the extra venison Bolognese to stuff some bell pepper cups and halved zucchini. I mixed 2 cups sauce with 1 cup shredded mozzarella. After stuffing lightly steamed veggies with the mixture, I topped them with a combo of 1/2 grated Parmesan and 1/2 bread crumbs mixed with a little chopped parsley and a minced clove of garlic. I then baked them at 350°F for approximately 35 minutes until the veggies were tender and topping was toasty brown. Delicious!