Monday, January 10, 2011

Venison Ragu with Polenta

We were lucky enough to be given a pound of ground venison from a co-worker of Jason's.  After some deliberation we decided to try out a ragu served over polenta.  The ragu took much longer to cook than I had expected!  I tried to have the dish ready by the time Jason got home after 8:00pm and it still wasn't ready.  We had to leave the pot simmering very low and run to the local bar for a burger for dinner!

Luckily, the ragu finally came together and we had the pleasure of inviting a few friends over the following evening to test out the recipe.  I must admit I was quite proud of myself with this one!  The ragu was really delicious, and I usually do not cook the meat in our house.  I also finally got the polenta cooked properly, something I have struggled with!  Ground beef could be substituted for the venison.


1/4 cup olive oil
1 yellow onion, finely diced
1 large carrot, finely diced
1 celery stalk, finely diced
1 clove garlic minced
1-2 Tbsp chopped rosemary
1 lb ground venison
1/2 cup red wine
1 bay leaf
1 can (14 oz) crushed roma tomatoes
3 oz cremini mushrooms sliced

2 tsp salt
7 cups water
scant 2 cups polenta (not instant)

--Ragu:  in a heavy bottomed pot (le creuset ideally) heat the oil over medium heat.  Add the onion, carrot, celery, garlic, season with a little salt and pepper and saute 15 minutes

--Add the venison and rosemary, and break up the venison with a wooden spoon to distribute the meat throughout the pot

--Raise heat to high and stir well, cooking until meat is browned

--Add the wine and cook until alcohol is evaporated (I go by smell)

--Add 1 1/2cups water and bay leaf and bring to a boil

--Reduce heat to low, partially cover and simmer about 45 minutes

--Add the tomatoes, mushrooms, salt and pepper and cook over low heat until the sauce starts to become integrated. 

**This took a couple of hours over low heat but I was not using the ideal heavy bottomed pot.  I let the sauce go for quite awhile, letting the vegetables break down and waiting for the liquid to acquire a reddish-brownish tint.  I let the ragu cool and put the pot in the fridge overnight

--TO REHEAT:  Put pot back on stove top, add a little more red wine and water and heat over med-low heat


--Bring 7 cups water and salt to a boil in a large pot

--Add the polenta slowly, whisking constantly

--Reduce the heat to medium for about 5 minutes, until the polenta begins to thicken, then reduce the heat to low

--Cook stirring almost constantly with a long handled wooden spoon until the polenta comes away easily from the sides of the pan, about 30 minutes

--Add a couple of thin slices of butter to polenta and stir.  Season with salt and pepper

Serve ragu over a polenta with a nice salad on the side!

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