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
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter (2 oz)
- 1 cup minced onion (5 oz)
- 1 cup minced carrot (5 oz)
- 1 cup minced celery (5 oz)
- 2 pounds ground venison
- 1 ounce dried mushrooms, reconstituted in 2 cups hot water, drained, and chopped, soaking water reserved
- One (6-ounce) can tomato paste
- 1 cup venison broth, beef broth or water
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 1 cup milk, preferably whole
- 1/2 nutmeg, grated or 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Pasta, for serving
- Grated Parmesan cheese, for garnish
- 1. In a large heavy pot or Dutch oven set over medium-high heat, melt the butter. Add the onion, celery, and carrots and cook gently without browning, stirring often and reducing heat if necessary, until softened, 5 to 10 minutes. Sprinkle a little salt over the vegetables as they cook.
- 2. When the vegetables have softened, stir in the drained chopped mushrooms and tomato paste and cook, stirring often, until the tomato paste begins to darken, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the ground meat, the mushroom soaking water, and the broth or water. Bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium-low and allow the mixture to ever so gently simmer, uncovered and stirring every great once in a while, until the liquid has mostly evaporated, 1 to 2 hours, depending on just how briskly your Bolognese is simmering.
- 3. Pour in the wine and continue to cook, uncovered and stirring occasionally, until the wine has mostly evaporated, 45 to 60 minutes. Add the milk, nutmeg, and black pepper and stir well. Bring back to a simmer and add salt to taste. Simmer gently until thickened, about 30 minutes more.
- 4. When you add the milk to the sauce, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add enough salt to make it taste like the sea. Once the sauce has thickened, add the pasta to the boiling water and cook until it is al dente.
- 5. To serve, place the pasta in a large bowl and add a healthy ladle overflowing with sauce and gently toss to combine. Portion out the pasta and then top each with another ladle’s worth (or more) of Bolognese sauce. Grate the cheese over the top and serve.