If there is one dish that has numerous recipes and methods it’s bolognese. For this venison bolognese, I decided to keep it authentic, and for me, that’s Marcella Hazan’s method.
I spent a lot of time in Italy, trying local cuisine and cooking methods, and use some of these approaches for many of my recipes.
This one is about as authentic as they come, if you want something a little more rustic, I recommend trying my ragu recipe.
For a dish that packs so much flavor it surprisingly only use a few ingredients. Much of this is thanks to using venison instead of beef, giving the dish more depth along with some natural sweetness.
For this recipe, you can use lean venison but I used 10% fat. I find this gives the dish a more rounded flavor and consistency (plus it’s what I had in the freezer). The added fat also works for the mirepoix which I will explain later.
Milk, there are many mixed opinions about using milk in bolognese, some love it and some hate it, but who am I to argue with Marcella.
I’ve tried both ragu and bolognese with and without milk, and I have no doubt that adding milk makes the dish much more balanced, and creamy.
I also use white wine in this recipe and think it’s another crucial ingredient. I recommend using a sweet white wine, I used pinot noir and don’t think I could have picked a better wine.
Next is the mirepoix, this is a mix of three vegetables that are diced small and cooked in fat. Here, we forgo cooking them in fat and allow the added fat from the ground venison mix instead.
Typically a mirepoix is made of carrots, onions, and celery, but I’ve swapped out the onions in favor of shallots for this recipe.
This dish is not very complicated but does take time to extract all the flavors fully. I like to use a dutch oven for bolognese, but any heavy-bottomed pot will work.
Start with your aromatics in butter and then add the mirepoix. Next add the venison, the fat you added to the mix will render and be absorbed by the mirepoix, like I mentioned earlier.
Once the meat is browned it’s time to add the milk. We do this now, because we want to reduce the milk almost completely.
After the milk is reduced add the wine, again reduce the wine as much as possible. Now we can add the tomatoes, herbs, and stock.
Cook this on as low heat as you can get your stove for 3 hours. Test the dish around the halfway mark for sweetness, some tinned tomatoes are not sweet, so you may need to add some brown sugar.
- 1 pound ground venison 10-20% fat (see note 1)
- 2 oz pork belly
- 3 shallots diced
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 1 carrot finely diced
- 2 celery finely diced
- 3 cups tinned tomatoes
- 1 cup milk
- 1 cup white wine
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar see note 2
- 1 cup venison stock see note 4
- Heat a dutch oven over medium-low. Add 1 knob of butter and add shallots. Cook shallots until translucent (approx 1 minute)
- Add garlic, carrots and celery to pot and cook for 2 minutes
- Increase the temperature to medium-high and add venison. Cook until all the meat is browned.
- Add the milk and cook until the milk reduces almost completely
- Add the wine and continue to cook until it has almost evaporated
- Add the oregano
- Add the crushed tomatoes and stir
- Add the stock
- Reduce heat to lowest possible setting and cook for 3 hours uncovererd
- Test the dish and see if it needs sugar. Add sugar as necessary
- You can use lean venison but I recommend using venison with at least 10% fat as it works well with the mirepoix in this recipe.
- Often tinned tomatoes are not very sweet, so I recommend tasting your dish halfway through cooking and adding sugar as needed.
- If you plan on cooking your dish for less than 3 hours, you can reduce the amount of stock needed.