BBC Countryfile Magazine
SERVES 4–5 INGREDIENTS
1 tbsp olive or vegetable oil
100g unsmoked streaky bacon, chopped, or bacon lardons
1kg diced venison shoulder
1 onion, finely chopped
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
2 carrots, scrubbed or peeled and chopped quite fine
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 bay leaves
A few sprigs of thyme
150ml white wine
400g tin plum tomatoes, or about 500ml passata
500ml vegetable or meat stock
A dash of Worcestershire sauce (optional)
Sea salt and black pepper
Wholewheat pasta of your choice
Grated Parmesan or crumbled ricotta
It’s great to include wild meat in your repertoire, and venison makes a fantastic ‘ragu’ – a rich meat, veg and tomato sauce that is lovely with pasta.
1 Heat a flameproof casserole over a medium heat and add the oil. Add the bacon and fry until golden. Scoop on to a plate, leaving the fat in the pan.
2 Season the pieces of venison and add half of them to the casserole, frying on all sides to brown well. Remove the meat and add to the bacon. Repeat to colour the rest of the venison. Set aside.
3 Add the onion, celery, carrots, garlic and herbs to the casserole and sizzle for a few minutes, pushing the veg around to pick up any brown meaty bits on the base of the casserole. Turn down the heat and sweat the veg for 10 minutes until starting to soften. Pour in the wine and simmer until reduced by about two-thirds.
4 Return the bacon and meat to the pan, along with the tomatoes (crushing them first in your hands or with a fork) or passata, and the stock. The liquid should just cover the meat, so add a dash more water if it’s needed. Bring to a low simmer, cover and cook very gently for about 1½ hours until the meat is tender.
5 Remove the venison from the casserole and set aside. Taste the sauce and add a dash of Worcestershire sauce if you like. If it isn’t already deliciously rich, simmer uncovered for 15–20 mins to reduce and concentrate the flavour. Check seasoning.
6 Meanwhile, cut the venison into smaller pieces with a knife and fork. Return the meat to the sauce and check the seasoning.
7 Serve on wholewheat linguine or spaghetti, with a dusting of Parmesan or crumbled ricotta... or both.