I love pasta. I love rich tomato based sauces and I love meat so it made perfect sense to combine all of these products to make this rich Venison Ragu Conchiglioni. I opted for the large Conchiglioni pasta shells because you can stuff the shells with the ragu, making each bite even more indulgent.
Like any ragu, the main vegetables you need are onion, celery and carrots. They stew really well when they are cooked low and slow, ultimately enrichen the flavour and adding texture to the dish. Red wine is an essential too and adds a real depth of flavour to the meat that is unrivaled. I used a nice Cabernet Sauvignon for this but Rioja also works well but don't feel the need to spend alot especially if it is purely for cooking. I picked up a 25cl bottle for about £1.80 in my local supermarket and it did the job.
The key to this dish is time, not thyme as you need to cook this low and slow for 2.5 to 3 hours in the oven but it is worth it. If you can't find the large Conchiglioni, simply swap for your pasta of choice, pappardele and rigatoni work really too. Likewise, if you find parmesan is to strong then you may wish to opt for Grana Padano instead, which I find to be not as intense in flavour but delicious nonetheless.
Prep time: less than 15 minutes
Cooking time: 2.5 - 3 hours
600g diced venison
250ml red wine
2 large carrots, diced
4 celery sticks, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 brown onions, diced
3 bay leaves
1 tbsp dried thyme
200ml beef stock
Large Conchiglioni pasta shells
Preheat oven to 150c (fan assisted)
Heat 1 tbsp olive oil over high heat in a heavy based pan. Add the diced venison and sear each piece until very browned (3 - 5 minutes in total), then remove onto a plate.
Reduce the heat to medium low and add remaining 2 tbsp of olive oil. Add garlic and onion and sauté for 2 minutes. Then add the carrots and celery and sauté slowly for 5 minutes.
Return the venison to the pan and add the passata, red wine, bay leaves, thyme and bring it to a gentle simmer for 5 minutes before transferring to a casserole dish and covering it with a lid (foil will also work).
Pop the dish in the oven and cook for 2 and a half hours.
When you have ten minutes left of cooking, bring a pan of salted water to the boil and cook your pasta as per guideline. Drain and return to the pan. Spoon in the ragu and ensure the pasta is well coated.
Serve in a bowl with grated parmesan and fresh basil.