Recipes Main Courses Poultry and Game Oven-Braised Venison Ragout
Oven-Braised Venison Ragout

Oven-Braised Venison Ragout

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 150 minutes
Servings: 6 Serves 6.
Although meats that are evenly and lightly marbled with fat are generally best for braised and stewed dishes, venison, which is quite lean, makes a tasty ragout.


  • 3 lb. boneless venison such as rump pot roast,
      sirloin tip or top round, cut into 1 1/2-inch
  • 2 Tbs. all-purpose flour
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 3 oz. pancetta, finely chopped
  • 1 yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 6 fresh flat-leaf parsley sprigs
  • 3 fresh thyme sprigs
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2 cups dry red wine such as Barolo,
      Cabernet Sauvignon or Côtes-du-Rhône
  • 4 cups chicken, beef or veal broth
  • 1 Tbs. tomato paste
  • 1 lb. pearl onions
  • 2 Tbs. unsalted butter
  • 1 lb. small fresh button mushrooms, brushed
  • 2 Tbs. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste


Preheat an oven to 350°F. Place the venison in a bowl, sprinkle with the flour and toss together.

In a large Dutch oven over medium heat, warm 1 Tbs. of the olive oil. Add the pancetta and onion and sauté until the onion is soft, about 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a plate. Increase the heat to medium-high and add the remaining 1 Tbs. oil. Working in batches, add the venison and cook, turning occasionally, until golden brown on all sides, 10 to 15 minutes.

Using kitchen string, tie the parsley and thyme sprigs and bay leaves into a bundle. Return the onion and pancetta to the pan along with the herb bundle and the garlic. Increase the heat to high and pour in the wine. Bring to a boil, stirring to scrape up any browned bits from the pan bottom, and boil until the wine is reduced by half, about 5 minutes. Add the broth and tomato paste and bring to a boil. Cover, place in the oven and cook until the venison can be easily pierced with a knife, about 1 1/2 hours.

Meanwhile, in a saucepan, combine the pearl onions with water to cover. Bring to a boil and boil for 2 minutes. Drain, rinse and drain again. Trim off the root end of each onion, then cut a shallow X in each trimmed end. Squeeze each onion gently to slip off the skin. Set aside.

In a fry pan over medium-high heat, melt 1 Tbs. of the butter. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly golden, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Melt the remaining 1 Tbs. butter in the same pan. Add the pearl onions and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until lightly golden, about 10 minutes. Set aside.

When the venison is tender, remove it from the oven and add the onions. Place over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Cook, uncovered, until the onions are tender, about 20 minutes. Add the mushrooms and stir to heat through. Discard the herb bundle. Stir in the chopped parsley and season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.
Serves 6.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Seasonal Celebration Series, Autumn, by Joanne Weir (Time-Life Books, 1997).