Last Updated on October 27, 2021
Skip straight to my recipe for venison ragu
You may love red meat but, like me, be concerned about the impact of red meat on the environment. In particular, beef. Luckily there’s an easy substitute in the form of venison that I think tastes just as good, if not better. Wild venison is naturally free-range and while it may not come with organic certification, wild deer are not treated with hormones or antibiotics. And, the deer need to be culled to help preserve crops. Venison ragu is an excellent alternative to beef ragu as a pasta sauce, it’s lower in fat and easy to make in batch to freeze for a later date.
My own recipe for venison ragu is something that I vary according to what is in the fridge and store cupboard. The basic ingredients you need are venison mince, canned tomatoes, onions, garlic and red wine. I like to add pancetta and chicken liver. And, if I am trying to make an even healthier version of my venison ragu I add chopped celery, carrots, mushrooms and sometimes lentils. The mixture takes about 40 minutes to cook, although it can happily be left on the stove for a further 30 minutes for a really rich ragu. You can also make this in a slow cooker or an instant pot pressure cooker by adjusting the cooking times appropriately. My personal preference is to use the stovetop though because I think the ragu benefits from reducing down slowly.
Right now, my kitchen is being refurbished so I made this venison ragu up in advance and froze portions to use for an easy supper. 500 grams of venison mince, with a few chicken livers and 70 grams of pancetta makes enough for somewhere between 8 and 10 portions of venison ragu – so this is really quite a frugal option too. But, somehow game of any sort feels luxurious to me. And it’s lovely to know that what I am eating beats the beef version in terms of diet and nutrition as well as tasting really good
- 500 g venison mince
- 70 g cubed pancetta
- 70 g chicken livers optional
- 2 cans chopped tomatoes
- 4 medium brown onions
- 2 cloves garlic
- 100 ml red wine
- 1 handful fresh oregano
- 2 sprigs rosemary
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- Peel and dice the onions finely
- Warm the oil in a large cast iron casserole and gently soften the onions for 10 minutes
- Peel and crush the garlic, adding it for the last 3 minutes of cooking
- Remove the onion and garlic from the pan
- Fry the meats to brown them all over. Start with the pancetta so that the fat from this can be used to help brown the livers and mince. When the fat starts to run and the edges of the pancetta caramelise, remove from the pan and set to one side
- Add the chicken livers and cook for 3-5 minutes. Remove from the pan, allow to cool and then chop, removing any tough parts
- Brown the venison mince in batches taking care not to stew the meat
- Once everything has been browned, add in the herbs and stir through for a few seconds before returning all the ingredients to the pan together with the canned tomatoes and wine
- Bring the mixture to a gentle simmer and season with pepper and a little salt.
- Simmer on the hob for a minimum of 30 minutes and for up to an hour, till the mixture has reduced down nicely and the sauce has thickened.
- Taste and adjust seasoning.
- If you are freezing, then allow the mixture to cool before portioning. I find I can make 8-10 portions of venison ragu with this quantity of meat, but your own appetite and that of your family may be different
Do you enjoy eating venison and other game? We love the extra flavour you get in these dishes. While the Frugal Flexitarian is not vegetarian, eating locally sourced food that is naturally free-range and which needs to be culled to preserve our crops seems like an excellent way to improve our carbon footprint. If you like this recipe you may also enjoy our venison burger recipe.
We enjoy eating venison ragu with pasta and grated parmesan cheese. It’s also excellent as a topping for a jacket potato. And of course, you can use it to fill your own homemade lasagne.