This big-flavoured dish is a slow burner, with the ragù taking several hours to cook as the venison slowly tenderises. That being said, those hours result in an indulgent and aromatic supper which combines perfectly with wide, silky pappardelle noodles. Red wine, cinnamon and bay complement and soften the gamey flavour of the meat to create a mouthwatering sauce.
INGREDIENTS (Serves 4)
*Note: you will need to roll the pasta thinly or use a machine to create sheets ready for cutting. You can purchase pappardelle attachments for machines to create uniform strips, or alternatively use a pasta cutter or sharp knife to cut your own.
170g super Fine 00 Grade Pasta Flour
90g semolina flour
3 eggs + 1/2 extra yolk
1/2 tsp of olive oil
1/2 tsp of salt
*You can also purchase dried pappardelle pasta from supermarkets and Italian delicatessens
500g wild diced venison
2 onions, thinly sliced
2 rashers of bacon/pancetta, snipped into lardons
2 bay leaves
Freshly ground pepper
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 cinnamon stick or a pinch of ground cinnamon
2 glasses of red wine, or enough to just cover
3 tbsp tomato purée
400ml beef stock
Heat your oven to 160°C/Fan 140°C. Sizzle the bacon or pancetta in a little olive oil, along with the onions, bay leaves and pinch of salt and pepper. Cook till the bay is fragrant and the onions tender and golden.
Season the diced venison. Add to the pot with the garlic, cinnamon and cloves. Sear till the venison browns.
Add enough wine to cover. Bubble it for a few mins so the alcohol evaporates a little. Stir in the tomato paste along with the beef stock.
Simmer for 2 hrs on the hob or in the oven, till the meat almost falls apart when prodded with a fork. Or, pop the ragù in a slow cooker overnight.
Whilst the ragù bubbles away you can start preparing your fresh pasta.
Check a few times during cooking. Add a little water if the mix is dry. When cooked, shred the meat with a fork. It should just fall apart. Taste. Adjust seasoning. Serve with fresh pappardelle pasta and a spinkling of freshly grated parmesan, along with a glass of merlot or shiraz.
Place the flour on a board or in a bowl. Make a well in the centre and crack the eggs into it. Beat the eggs with a fork until smooth.
Using the tips of your fingers, mix the eggs with the flour, incorporating a little at a time, until everything is combined.
Knead the pieces of dough together until you're left with a smooth lump of dough. Knead and work it with your hands to develop the gluten in the flour for 8-10 minutes until the pasta starts to feel smooth and silky instead of rough and floury. You'll also feel that the dough springs back, or that there's some resistance when pushing down on it.
Wrap the dough in cling film and put it in the fridge to rest for at least half an hour before you use it. Make sure the cling film covers it well or it will dry out and go crusty round the edges.
Cut off 1/3 of the dough. Wrap the remaining dough in plastic wrap to keep it from drying out and place back in the fridge. Flatten dough with your hands and roll to the correct thinness. If using a pasta machine, pass through the largest setting of your pasta machine. Fold in half, rub with more flour, and pass through the pasta machine again. Keep passing though the machine until you reach an even rectangular sheet of smooth, not sticky, consistency. Pass the dough through the middle setting of your machine and then through the second-to-last to make a long and thin sheet.
If using a papardelle attachment, gently pass the sheets through until cut into shape. If doing this by hand, gently slice into wide strips of similar proportions, sprinkle with flour and leave aside ready for cooking.
Gently place the strands in salted boiling water and cook for 3-4 minutes until ready. Use a slotted spoon and gently add the noodles to the sauce, avoid draining using a colander otherwise the tender strands may rip.