Recipe: Wild venison ragú with fresh tagliatelle

Wild venison ragu
With comfort food at the top of everyone's list this winter, I've been making food that not only nourishes the body but also feeds the soul. I feel like during this strange time that we're experiencing having a comforting feed is necessary.
This recipe would work with venison, wild boar, hare or any wild red meat mince that you have available. I've tried it with moose mince and it's delicious. Adding the milk may seem like a strange ingredient, however, the milk balances the acidity in the tomatoes and also in turn helps balance any "gamey" flavours that may be in the mince. 

You can make the pasta by hand or if you have a pasta rolling machine available follow the instructions for the machine in making tagliatelle. We used a pasta machine to make the pasta. Having fresh pasta makes this dish into something more special and boy it's worth the hassle of making it! 

Wild venison ragu with fresh tagliatelle 

Serves 4 

Time to cook: You need to leave the pasta dough for 30 minutes to rest and for the gluten to develop

Approximately 2 hours for the sauce (obviously the more simmering time the sauce has, the better it tastes)

Ingredients 

For the pasta

400g pasta/ 00 flour 

4 eggs 

For the ragú

100g smoked bacon lardons 

1 carrot, finely diced 

1 celery stick, finely diced 

1 onion, finely diced 

3 garlic cloves, finely diced 

400g wild venison mince (or other wild meat works too) 

125ml red wine 

400g good quality tin chopped tomatoes 

1 tablespoon tomato puree 

150ml whole milk

1 bay leaf 

half a freshly grated nutmeg 

salt 

Method:

Pasta

Tip the flour onto your wooden board and using your fingers make a well in the middle. Pour the eggs into the well. Take a fork and scramble the eggs and flour together. Mix well and make sure no lumps are present until you have a batter. Give your dough a quick knead picking up any left over flour. The texture should end up being soft and pillowy, but not too sticky. 

Knead the dough for a minimum of ten minutes. Eventually your dough should feel smooth. Wrap your dough in cling film and leave in room temperature for 30 minutes. 

Roll out your dough with a rolling pin and if you have a pasta machine feed through the pasta machine. Follow the pasta machine instructions. If you are making the pasta by hand follow this video on how to make tagliatelle. 

You want your ribbons to be about 7mm (3/4 inches) wide. Hang your pasta up to dry whilst you make the sauce. 

J Boult Designs making fresh tagliatelle Fresh tagliatelle drying

This is Jamie making the pasta with the machine and the finished pasta drying on our makeshift drying rack. 

Ragu sauce 

Use a dutch oven or heavy lidded pot on the stove top to heat oil and add lardons. Once the fat has been released add the carrots, onion, garlic and celery. Turn your heat down to medium, stir the lardons, fat and vegetables together. Leave for 10 minutes until carrots have begun to soften. If you need to add a splash of water to encourage the vegetables to cook please do. Once the vegetables and lardons mixture has caramelised, remove it from the pot. 

Add more oil, turn up the heat and add the mince. Once the meat has been browned, add the vegetables and lardons mix. Stir in the wine and tinned tomatoes. Cook for five minutes until the wine cooks out. Stir in half the milk, the bay leaf, the grated nutmeg and the tomato puree. Let the ragu simmer very gently on low heat for an hour or two with the lid half on. Add the rest of the milk as the ragu simmers when you feel it's getting dry. 

When you're ready to serve 

Boil a large pot of water, add some salt and then very gently when the water is bubbling add the fresh pasta. Cook the pasta for a few minutes, drain and serve. Serve with grated parmesan, finely chopped parsley and freshly grated pepper. 

Wild venison ragu