By Tommy Thompson
Venison and wild pork team up in a pasta dish just right to use your excess meat reserves.
These days, it seems time is something we all have too little of. However, when it comes to cooking a great meal, there are instances where the final result is directly related to the time spent preparing it. And besides, time flies when you’re having fun—or thinking about the meal ahead!
If you’re French, a slow-cooked stew of meat and vegetables is a ragout. Here, in the New World, led astray by the name of a commercial spaghetti sauce, it’s ragu. In either instance, this version is worth the effort.
I’m not a hunter of anything bigger than an Osceola turkey, but I’m lucky to be on the receiving end of meat gifts from my hog and deer hunting buddies. And when my freezer starts to overflow with packages of ground venison and wild pork, I start thinking “ragu.”
You need to set aside an afternoon to make a proper ragu. The cutting, chopping and browning don’t take long, nor does it take lots of specialized kitchen equipment. A large covered skillet and a pot to boil a couple of quarts of water will do. If you’re cooking tonight’s dinner, start at noon. Another option is to cook the sauce, hold on preparing the pasta, and chill in the fridge or freeze for later. You’ll be amazed how well this recipe tastes after it has rested a day or so.
One warning: DO NOT invite anyone who gives you venison or wild pork to a dinner where this recipe is served. They’ll want to cook it themselves and your meat source will disappear!
Wild Game Ragu
1 large onion
1 carrot, peeled
1 celery stalk
4 garlic cloves
2 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 cup coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley, divided
1 28-ounce can whole peeled San Marzano tomatoes
1/4 cup olive oil
1 pound ground venison
1 pound ground wild pork
1/2 pound smoked bacon, finely chopped Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
1 tbsp. tomato paste
1 pound pasta (rigatoni, orecchiette, penne)
Shaved Parmesan cheese
Pulse in a food processor the onion, carrot, celery, garlic, oregano, red pepper flakes and 1/4 cup parsley until finely chopped; transfer to a small bowl and set aside. Purée tomatoes with juices in processor; set aside. Heat oil in a large heavy pot over medium heat; add sausage and cook, breaking up with a spoon, until browned. Add ground meat and bacon, season with salt and pepper, and cook, breaking up with a spoon, until no longer pink. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a plate. Increase heat to medium-high. Add reserved vegetable mixture to drippings in pot, season with salt, and cook, stirring often, until golden, 8-10 minutes. Stir tomato paste and 1 cup water (or red wine!) in a small bowl; add to pot. Cook, scraping up any browned bits from bottom of pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until liquid has almost evaporated, 6-8 minutes.
Add reserved meat and tomato purée and 1 cup water (or red wine!). Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, adding more liquid as needed to keep meat nearly submerged, until meat is tender, about 4 hours. Season with salt to taste.
About a half-hour before serving, boil pasta in lightly salted water until al dente, or slightly chewy. Drain and add to sauce, stir and continue to cook.
Serve in individual bowls, garnished with the remainder of the chopped parsley and a few shavings of Parmesan cheese. FS
First Published Florida Sportsman Magazine November 2015
Article source: http://www.floridasportsman.com/2017/03/01/wild-game-ragu/