Not Ina Garten

Venison Bolognese

Dec 4, 2012 by


Can I let ya’ll in on a little secret?  I think Ina Garten is a bit of a snob.

No, I’ve never met her.  And she may be just a dear in person.  I used to watch her show on the Food Network religiously and I’ve never made a recipe of hers that didn’t turn out fabulously.  But one day while I was watching her show, The Husband pointed out that he wasn’t fond of her because she came across as being “hoity-toity.”

Let’s see . . . She lives in a fabulous house in The Hamptons with a perfectly manicured garden, tools around in a Mercedes convertible, and all her friends are artists, or authors, or interior designers, or own quaint little flower shops.  Not a blue collar among them.  Hmm, yeah, maybe she does come across as a little hoity-toity.

But recently I came across this interview with Ina.  It’s from two years ago, I know.  I stumbled across it because I wanted to see if you could freeze Bolognese sauce since it contained milk.  In the interview, Ina says, “I’m actually not big on freezing. It really changes the texture and flavor of a dish . . . [Ina] would much rather start with a very simple recipe and make it fresh — rather than freezing it ahead.”  To which the interviewer responds with, “I agreed wholeheartedly on this point; my freezer is for ice cream and chicken stock only.”

Pfffffttttttt. . . . .

That’s the sound of me sticking my tongue out and blowing raspberries at the computer screen.  It’s so obviously apparent that neither Ina nor the interviewer a.) have full-time jobs that involve something other than cooking b.) have kids, or c.) have a commute to and from work longer than 10 minutes.  I don’t know about ya’ll, but if I didn’t cook ahead and freeze things, we would be eating a whole lot of McDonald’s and Chick-Fil-A in this house, and that’s not healthy for my wallet or my rear end.

But Ina does go on to say that if you absolutely have to freeze something, a meaty Bolognese sauce is the perfect way go.  Well, thank God for that, because this recipe serves 18 and it’s just the three of us!  Okay, two and a half.  Little Tot is at that age where he’ll eat something one day and the next day decide he’s not going touch it.  Sigh . . .

I opted to use ground venison in my Bolognese because the mighty deer slayer I am married to has already put two deer in our freezer.  That and I also always notice an increase in the number of hits my vension recipes receive during October, November, December, and January.  However, if you aren’t a hunter or don’t have someone to stock your freezer with deer meat, don’t fret.  You can easily replace the venison with lean ground beef.

This recipe does take some prep work and it has to simmer for three hours, so I wouldn’t recommend making this on a day when you’ve got to play soccer mom (or dad).  Save this for a day when it’s cold and rainy and everyone is cooped up indoors.  The simmering sauce will make your house smell so warm and inviting and you’ll have a rich and hearty meal to dig into at the end of the day.  Since it makes a ton of sauce, you’ll have plenty of leftovers to freeze for those days when you’re running around like crazy and short on time.



Venison Bolognese

Cook time
Total time
Inspired by Taste of Home magazine
Recipe type: Sauces and Seasonings
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 18
  • 3 pounds venison or lean ground beef
  • ⅓ cup olive oil
  • 3 medium onions, chopped
  • 3 large carrots, chopped
  • 6 celery ribs, chopped
  • 1 can (12 ounces) tomato paste, divided
  • 9 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 3 tablespoons dried parsley flakes
  • 5 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 3 teaspoons dried basil
  • 3 teaspoons dried marjoram
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons coarsely ground pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1-1/2 cups dry red wine
  • 3 cans (28 ounces each) diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1-1/2 cups beef stock
  • 6 bay leaves
  • 3 cups 2% milk
  • ¾ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  1. In a large stockpot over medium high heat, cook half of the meat, breaking it into crumbles, until no longer pink. Remove the meat with a slotted spoon and set aside. Pour off some of the fat and repeat with the remaining venison.
  2. In the same stock pot, add the olive oil and heat over medium heat. Add the onions, carrots, and celery. Cook until they are tender. Add 1 cup of the tomato paste and cook for an additional three minutes. Add the garlic, seasonings and meat.
  3. Add the wine. Bring mixture to a boil and cook until the wine is almost evaporated, about 5-8 minutes.
  4. Add the tomatoes, stock, and bay leaves. Allow mixture to return to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered for 1.5 hours. Add milk and continue to simmer for an additional 1.5 hours.
  5. Remove pot from heat. Remove and discard bay leaves. Stir in cheese and remaining tomato paste.
  6. Makes 5 quarts
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  1. Lenise

    I came for the recipe, which looks FABULOUS, but was moved to comment based on your write up on Ina :) I do think she comes across as a little uppity, however the gal actually did have a career that probably didn’t afford her much time for doing much else than commuting and working. She was a policy analyst for two presidents focusing on nuclear policy. I’m not defending her attitude now, and every time I see “Good Quality {ingredient I’ll only use once in this recipe}” in her recipes I want to scream, but I did want to put that little tidbit out there. At one point in her life, she surely must have relied on her freeze like the rest of us peasants :)

    (From Wikipedia)
    In Washington, Garten worked in the White House and took business courses at George Washington University, eventually earning an MBA, while her husband worked in the State Department and completed his graduate studies. Originally employed as a low-level government aide, she climbed the political ladder to the Office of Management and Budget and was assigned the position of budget analyst, which entailed writing the nuclear energy budget and policy papers on nuclear centrifuge plants for Presidents Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter

    • The Cooking Bride

      Hi Lenise, yes I knew she used to write energy bills for the White House. I agree with you! That job had to have required some long hours! Surely she didn’t come home every night and roast Jeffery a fresh, free range organic chicken with veggies she harvested from her garden.

  2. Verna

    I just came across your recipe and I’m in the middle of cooking the sauce now. I’m not clear on some of your instructions. You have under the Ingredients list at the last 4 dot points, instructions about adding the wine, then tomatoes, stock and bay leaf. Then the milk. In which order do these ingredients go in with the Instructions under number 1. and 2.? Thank you and I hope I hear back from you soon!

    • Hi Verna, it looks like the last four steps in the recipe ended up in the ingredients section. Not sure how they got there! I have corrected the recipe. Sorry for the confusion.

  3. Verna

    Hi Lisa, Just wanted to let you know I made this recipe and it was delicious and I wouldn’t change a thing!
    My hunter husband introduced me to venison meat sauce (his version) and I must admit, your recipe is way better! (Even though my husband wouldn’t admit it was better than his! :)) Thank you for sharing this wonderful venison recipe and it will become a permanent part of my recipe collection.

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