This is one of three recipes featured from Canadian wild game chef Michael Hunter’s upcoming The Hunter Chef Cookbook. You can pre-order your copy here, and check out his recipes for Roast Duck and Vension and Wild Boar Ribs.
Bolognese is a classic Italian meat ragù traditionally served with tagliatelle, a broad flat egg noodle. This is a hearty family meal. Making fresh pasta dough is a fun activity to involve your kids in. My kids love to get their hands into the dough and see their labour turn into rich noodles. You can use store-bought fresh or dried pasta if you do not have time to make your own. In place of the ground venison, you could use moose, elk, or any red meat of your choice.
Venison Bolognese Ingredients
- 2 tablespoons (30 mL) olive oil, for sautéing
- 1 pound (450 g) ground venison
- 1 tablespoon (15 mL) kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons (10 mL) black pepper
- 1 cup (250 mL) diced white onion
- ½ cup (125 mL) diced carrot
- ½ cup (125 mL) diced celery
- ¼ cup (60 mL) minced garlic Pinch of red chili flakes
- 2 cups (500 mL) dark stock (venison, game, or beef; see page 70)
- 1 cup (250 mL) dry white wine
- 1 can (28 ounces/796 mL) diced tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons (30 mL) tomato paste
- 3 bay leaves
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme
Venison Bolognese Directions
Heat a large, heavy pot over high heat. Add the olive oil, ground venison, salt, and pepper and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, until the meat is browned. Add the onion, carrot, celery, garlic, and chili flakes and cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 minutes. Add the stock, white wine, tomatoes and their juice, tomato paste, bay leaves, and thyme. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, until the sauce has thickened, 45 to 60 minutes. (Meanwhile, make the pasta dough.) Remove from the heat, discard the bay leaves and thyme stems, and keep warm while you cook the pasta.
- 10 extra-large egg yolks (preferrably organic or omega-3 eggs for color)
- 3 cups (750 mL/360 g) unbleached bread flour, more for dusting
- 1 teaspoon (5 mL) kosher
- 1 tablespoon (15 mL) olive oil
- Semolina flour, for dusting
Make the Tagliatelle
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine the egg yolks, bread flour, salt, and olive oil. Mix on low speed until a stiff dough forms, 3 to 5 minutes. The dough should stick together and feel like dry, stiff play dough when squeezed into a ball with your hand. If the dough appears sandy and it is not coming together to form a ball, add up to 1 tablespoon (15 mL) of water and continue mixing for 1 minute more. (Egg yolks vary in size, so a bit of water will help to form the dough. But be careful—too much water will soften the dough, resulting in a flimsy texture when cooked.)
Lightly flour a work surface with bread flour. Transfer the dough to the work surface and knead by hand to form a tight ball. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 30 minutes to relax the gluten before rolling and cutting. The dough can be wrapped in plastic wrap and stored for up to 12 hours or overnight in the fridge. Do not store the dough longer than 12 hours or it will start to oxidize, becoming yellowish grey.
Cut the dough into 2 equal portions. Press 1 portion flat with you hands and dust it with bread flour to prevent sticking. (Keep the remaining dough covered with plastic.) Starting with the widest setting on a pasta machine, roll the dough twice through each setting until you’ve reached the first or second thinnest setting (about 1/4 inch/2 mm thick), dusting with bread flour as needed (do no over-flour). Cut the pasta into tagliatelle noodles, 1/4 inch (5 mm) wide and 12 inches (30 cm) long, and portion in to 4.25-ounce/120 g nests and dust with semolina flour to prevent sticking. (If not using right away, freeze in an airtight container for up to 1 week. After the pasta will become brittle and crack. Do no thaw before cooking.)
Cook the Pasta and Finish
- 2 tablespoons (30 mL) unsalted butter
- 4 sprigs fresh basil, leaves only
- 1/2 cup (125 mL) freshly grated Paremsan cheese, more for serving
In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the pasta until al dente, 2 to 3 minutes. The pasta will continue to cook when tossed in the sauce, so do not overcook it. Drain the pasta, return it to the pot, and toss with 2 ladlefuls of sauce, the butter, basil, and Parmesan. Serve in warmed bowls with more sauce and Parmesan on top, as desired.
Tip: For best results with the pasta, use a digital scale and prepare the dough the day before and freeze in an airtight container.