Ingredients (Serves 4)
2 Tablespoons of Olive Oil.
2 Slices of Edenmill Smoked Bacon chopped.
500g of Edenmill Butcher Diced Venison Shoulder.
2 Medium Carrots finely diced.
1 Stick of celery finely diced.
1 Medium Onion finely diced.
4 Cloves of Garlic sliced thinly or crushed.
250ml of Red Wine.
400ml of Beef Stock.
1 Sprig of Rosemary.
2 Sprigs of Thyme.
2 Bay Leaves.
1 Tablespoon of Tomato Puree.
500g of Fresh Tagliatelle.
Salt and black pepper.
Freshly grated Parmesan to serve.
Preparation time: 30mins. Cooking time: 3-5 hours.
Pre-heat your oven to 130℃ (Fan) or 140℃ (Normal oven).
Put the olive oil into a large ovenproof casserole with a lid, and fry the bacon or pancetta on a medium heat until the fat has rendered down and it is nice and crispy (but not burnt). Remove the bacon using a slotted spoon and put aside for later.
Pat the venison dry with kitchen towel, season lightly with salt and black pepper. Turn the heat under the pan up to a medium high heat and then fry the venison, bacon fat and oil in 3 batches (for 500g). Don’t be tempted to throw everything in in one go, as it will cool the pan too much and the venison will cook through before it browns. Remove each batch from the pan once it is browned and set aside and remove the casserole from the heat so that it doesn’t burn.
Finely dice the carrots, celery and onion. You’ll find this easier with a large chef’s knife if you have one. Try and get the dice as fine as you can as this really helps release the flavour from the vegetables and adds a depth to the sauce.
Return the casserole to the heat and gently fry the carrots, celery and onion over a low to medium heat for about 10 minutes with the lid on until they are nice and soft but not browned. Add the garlic and fry with the other veg for around 2 minutes.
Add the red wine (preferably something with a good bit of flavour like a Cabernet Sauvignon or Pinot Noir) and simmer for 5 minutes with the lid off until it reduces a little, this helps to remove any bitterness from the wine and concentrates the flavour in the final sauce.
Return the venison and bacon to the pan, along with the tomato puree and enough of the beef stock to completely cover the meat and bring up to a gentle simmer.
Meanwhile tie the herbs together with some string and stir it into the sauce once it is gently bubbling. Don’t worry if the ragu looks very wet at this point, it will reduce slowly over the cooking time and everything will absorb those juices to give a super rich and comforting sauce.
Put the lid on the casserole and put it in the oven at 130-140℃. Cook slowly for at least 3 hours, stirring occasionally. Make sure to scrape back in or dissolve any spots of sauce that have bubbled up the side of the pot (there is loads of flavour in those little caramelised bits).
You’ll be able to tell when the sauce is ready when the Venison falls to pieces easily. Make sure to pick any Rosemary leaves that have escaped out of the Sauce and shred the venison into the Ragu by pulling it apart with two forks, you are looking for the Venison to break down into the sauce and absorb all those lovely juices.
Don’t worry if it takes longer to cook, as long as the sauce doesn’t dry out it will just get better with longer cooking, I often do this dish as a Sunday evening family meal and cook it for up to 5 hours while we are out and about, although reduce the temperature to about 120℃ if you plan on leaving it for an extended period to stop it drying out. Conversely if you are worried the sauce is too wet once you have shredded the venison, just return it to the oven with the lid off for around 20 minutes. But keep an eye on it as you don’t want it to get too dry!
Check the seasoning of the Ragu and add salt and pepper to taste. Keep warm until serving to give the Venison time to absorb all the sauce.
Boil a large pot of salted water and cook the Tagliatelle until al-dente, drain it and add it to the Ragu pot and stir everything around well to make sure that the pasta absorbs all of the flavour in the sauce.
Serve in warmed bowls or in one big serving bowl with a good grating of Parmesan on top and a glass of good Pinot Noir or a hefty beer like a porter, stout or a strong Belgian beer. Parmesan adds a fantastic depth of Umami flavour, which complements the richness of the Ragu really well – so don’t be tempted to skip it.
If you fancy a little more richness in the sauce you can trade off the red wine and beef stock but keep the overall volume the same. Don’t be tempted to go beyond 500ml of wine or it can get a bit too much.
Replace the Rosemary with some nice winter spices like a half stick of cinnamon and or some grated nutmeg.
This Ragu freezes really well. You can make bigger batches and freeze any excess before you mix in the pasta. Bear in mind it may take longer to cook larger batches but don’t panic once the Venison is shred-able it’s ready just adjust as you go.