Venison Ragu with Spaghetti Squash
Hello hungry readers! My apologies for a somewhat long absence. I’ve been pretty busy lately, and most notably was away on vacation for a week in Barcelona! Without going too far into my amazing week in an amazing city, I do want to highly recommend everyone visit if they have a chance. In a few words: Endless pintxos, Iberico Ham, beach-side paella, cathedrals, narrow winding streets, sunshiny days and cava-soaked nights. Just go there.
Anyway, after finally getting back into the swing of things, I bring you yet another delicious venison recipe. Yes, we still have tons of venison in our freezer, but if you want you can easily substitute with the meat of your choice in this recipe. This ragu (which Scott kept referring to as a stew, but is supposed to be more of a meat sauce), is easy to prepare, and delicious on top of spaghetti squash. Or, if you’re not saying ‘no’ to carbs, real pasta.
You will need:
- 2 pounds venison stew meat (I ended up carving the meat off the neck of the deer. I threw the bone in the pot with the ragu to simmer along with it!)
- 2 onions, roughly chopped
- 6 cloves garlic, chopped
- 3 carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
- 3 sprigs rosemary
- 3 TBSP minced sage
- 2 cups red wine (I used Chianti)
- 1 28oz can of whole peeled tomatoes
- 2 cups wild mushrooms (i used a mixed package with cremini, shitake and oyster)
- olive oil
- kosher salt
- 2 small or 1 large spaghetti squash
Cut meat into 1 to 2 inch cubes and salt generously. Heat a few tablespoons of olive oil in a stock pot or dutch oven over medium-high heat and begin searing your venison in batches. Make sure not to crowd the meat, and really let each piece brown for about 2-3 minutes per side. As you work in batches, set the browned pieces aside in a bowl.
Once all your venison is browned and removed from the pot, add in the onions and lower the heat to medium. Let the onions cook for about 5 minutes, until they’re golden. Add in the carrots, garlic and herbs, and cook for another 5 minutes. Then pour in the wine and let it simmer for 10 minutes to let it reduce a bit.
Using your hands, crush the canned tomatoes as you add them to the pot, along with the juices left in the can. Then add the venison back into the pot, stir to combine, and lower heat to a simmer. Cover and let cook for 2 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally. While your ragu simmers, prepare your spaghetti squash (*see below).
After 2 1/2 hours, remove the meat from the pot using a slotted spoon. With two forks, begin shredding the venison and adding it back to the pot. Once all your meat is shredded and mixed back into your ragu, add the mushrooms and salt to taste, if necessary. Cover the pot and let simmer for an additional 1/2 hour.
*While your ragu is simmering, prepare your spaghetti squash. Heat the oven to 350 degrees and cover a shallow baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Slice each squash in half lengthwise and place cut-side down onto the baking sheet. Add 3 TBSP water to the pan and cook for 30-40 minutes, until the squash is tender but not mushy. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly. Then, using a fork, scrape the inside of the squash to create spaghetti-like shreds. Depending on the size of your squash, you can serve the ragu right inside of them, or spoon the “spaghetti” into separate bowls and top with your sauce.