Venison Ragu with Pappardelle


The problems with current surgical training is that we are moved around a lot, granted this allows us to get better exposure to different practices, but it means we lose friends. This is exemplified by the fact that I no longer talk to the Drs I was a bright eyed F1 with so many years ago. Well, with change again in the air, I decided it was time to have my old team over before they rotated into GP or Psych and were lost to the winds of time.

My Italian Ex always used to insist her country had dinner perfectly sorted out; family, great food and wine. Well, she was at least right with this and I must thank her for the basis of this meal. Her family’s slow cooked wild boar recipe was something truly special.

Wild boar in the UK is a little hard to find, but Venison can be sought rather easily. I am a big fan of Venison; it’s a low fat but very flavoursome meat. It is however reasonably expensive so use it wisely. For my dinner party I decided to slow cook it, tear it into chunks and make an Italian classic – ragu. Obviously, I made some focaccia as well…………

Slow Roasted Venison Ragu



  • 4 Onions
  • 4 Carrots
  • 1 Head of Celery
  • 3 Cloves of Garlic
  • 2lb Venison joint
  • 1-2 glasses Red wine
  • Pancetta
  • Salt and pepper
  • Juniper berrys
  • 2 Bay leaves
  • 2 Tins of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 Tin of Plum tomatoes
  • 4oz roasted tomato puree

Start by finding some venison – this can be difficult and a good country butcher is the place to start. Ideally a shoulder cut is best as it contains some fat marbelling, but if you can’t get it, top with a little pork or beef fat.

I had my Butcher tie the joint up, all that remains is to season with some salt and pepper and juniper (because I love Gin that much). Then slow cook, with a few carrots, quartered onions, celery, garlic and a generous glass of Red wine, oh and a handful of juniper berries, in the bottom AGA overnight.

Leave to rest before pulling apart.


To finish making the ragu, start by frying off the pancetta in a dash of olive oil. When brown add finely diced carrots, celery and 2 large onions.  Soften until the onions have become translucent and then add a glove of garlic and the wine.

Once softened, add the tomato puree and plum and chopped tomatoes (minus the seeds and membrane). Season with a bay leaf and a pinch of salt and pepper

After about an hour of gentle simmering, combine the tomato base with the shredded Venison and you are nearly ready for dinner………


Homemade Pappardelle



  • 4oz High gluten  flour (Tippo or strong bread flour)
  • 1 Egg
  • Semolina
  • Olive oil

Next make the pasta. This is relatively easy and I’m using my favourite machine that I bought months ago for another blog post. It’s simply a case of putting all the ingredients into the hopper at the top and switching on.

After 5mins of deafening noise, switch to extrude and cut to length.

Leave to dry slightly before use. – I find hanging over wooden spoons works well.

The other option is just to buy fresh or dried………………………..


So this is where it all started………I really love this bread, it’s great if you have friends coming over and just want to chill and catch up. Served with balsamic & oil plus olives it allows wine and gossip to flow – perfect for when the team is over


  • 1lb strong white bread flour (I use Allinsons)
  • Yeast
  • 6oz Olive Oil
  • 12oz water
  • Semolina
  • Salt

To make the focaccia simply combine the flour, yeast, salt, about 2oz of the oil and the water to produce a wet and silky dough and then kneed for about 10 mins. I’m lazy so just used a dough hook on the Kitchenaid

It’s then just a waiting game, around an hour or until it’s doubled in size (great time for wine or paperwork or both).


When its proofed, gently transfer the dough into an oiled tray scattered with semolina. Its then back to proofing (1hr).

Before you commit the focaccia to the oven, don’t forget to vent some anger by prodding a few holes through the dough. Then drizzle the top with more oil and add a pinch of oregano .

Bake at around 220 for around 15 mins and finish on the base for another 5 to give it a wonderful crispness. No soggy bottoms here!!


Let’s Eat

So all that reminds is to cook the pasta, add the ragu and pour the wine…………..Then you can relax and catch up on all the gossip. Drs lead very different lives behind closed doors after all…


P.s the Dinner party went very well, much better than the first I held as an F1………………