Bastardizing Bolognese with Venison Sausage

dsc_0173(I’m going to resist the urge to yet again bitch about the weather, after all, I DID volunteer to move up here 2 years ago…but suffice it to say, the urge for comfort food continues to dominate)

My mother makes an amazing bolognese sauce, simmered for more than 3 hours to a delicious meat-tastic lip smacker of a sauce. My hubby makes an excellent lamb bolognese which he too simmers for hours until it is delicious and slightly gamy (in a good way). So it’s MY turn. And if you haven’t figured it out already, I have no patience and/or attention span, so this one is for the faster cooks out there who like their meat-sauciness to be ready in less than an hour. The ingredients are kind of a crap shoot, since I haven’t been to a supermarket in over a week, and I kind of made things up as I went along. The star of the dish – the venison sausage – was something my future brother-in-law is responsible for (along with my father-in-law) so it isn’t something we have around often or really ever. You can definitely use any sort of favorite sausage in this recipe, but if you are brave (not afraid of snacking on bambi) and you know a hunter, venison sausage is really truly worth trying. Here is what made it into the sauce pot:

Generous coating of olive oil

Approx 1lb sausage, cut into chunks

4-5 small shallots, finely sliced

Generous handful of baby carrots, thinly sliced (about 1/2 cup sliced carrots)

1/2 package of mushrooms, diced

2 heaping tablespoons (small handful) dried mushrooms, soaked in 1/4 cup water

4 tablespoons half n half (or milk, or cream)

1 can tomatoes, ground or diced (I used leftover tomato sauce from the freezer)

1/2 cup red wine

Pinch of red pepper flakes

small handful fresh chopped parsley

salt & pepper to taste

In a heavy saucepan, coat the bottom with olive oil and turn the heat on to a medium setting. Add shallots and carrots and saute until softened (about 5 minutes). I like to salt as I go along, so I add a small pinch of salt and the red pepper flakes at this point. Add sausage, increase heat to med-high, and start to brown the meat (about 3 mins).  Add fresh mushrooms, and allow to soften for about 2 minutes. You should be stirring every so often throughout this entire process.


Add dried mushrooms plus their soaking liquid and the wine, plus another pinch of salt. Allow the liquid to simmer at a high heat until cooked down some – about 5-7 minutes. Add half & half, stir, simmer for 1 more minute. Add tomato.

At this point you can start your pasta water. Lower the sauce to a med-low setting and allow the sauce to cook down. Once the pasta is about 3-4 minutes from being done, add parsley to the bolognese sauce. I used a short pasta (like Penne) for this sauce, I think it handles the sauce better than a long pasta (spaghetti) would.

When you are ready to serve, add some grated Parm and chow down!

3 Responses

  1. This looks really delicious … love the combination of flavors … Laila ..

  2. This is great cold weather food and perfect for pulling out of the freezer. Warm, deep flavor.

    The leftovers are gone. If spring doesn’t come soon we will have to make more.

  3. Deer is out of season, I think.

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