Venison and Mushroom Lasagne


This is the dish I made to go along with the spicy garlic-olive bread that I posted about on Wednesday. They did share the centre stage, both being recipes that I immensely enjoyed both making and eating. I felt a little sorry for the accompanying salad, which was an excellent supporting artist, but one destined not to be in the limelight because the other two were so outstanding.

The idea for the lasagne started with a Jamie Oliver recipe (a bit predictable as I’m having a Jamie phase right now) for a quick ragu – he calls his recipe Pregnant Jools’s Pasta and you can find it through the link. The idea behind it is making a rich pasta sauce in very little time, and as part of the recipe he breaks up sausages in a food processor to add to finely chopped and sautéed vegetables. The idea is that the sausages are already well seasoned, so they will replace the need to simmer a sauce for hours to make sure the meat is full of flavour. I initially wanted to buy some venison sausages and more or less follow his recipe, but I couldn’t find any on the day. What I did find was venison and pork grillsteaks, which I decided would work just as well. In fact, they may even be better since they don’t have any skins. This is what they look like to start with:

They have 64% venison and 16% pork in them, giving a total of 80% meat – the full ingredients list and nutrition content are available on Highland Game’s website if you want to check it out.

I put these together with some veg (and, technically, fruit) to make a lovely, rich ragu. This recipe makes four moderate servings, two of which I used in the lasagne:

  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1/2 red onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 2 sticks of celery, diced
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • red wine
  • leaves from one stem of rosemary, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp juniper berries, well crushed
  • 2 venison and pork grillsteaks
  • 3 tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • 240ml boiling water
  • 1 beef stock cube
  • black pepper

First, finely chop the onion, crush the garlic and saute both in the olive oil over a medium high heat, until the garlic is fragrant and the onion soft. You’ll have to stir continuously to stop any burning.

Next, add the celery and carrot, and cook (still stirring almost continuously) until you can see the veg starting to soften round the edges. Now add a good splash of red wine, which should sizzle excitingly and make you feel like a proper chef, but without the hat. Unless you have a hat.

Cook until the wine is almost totally absorbed by the veg, then add the rosemary and the juniper berries, and stir through. Now break up the grillsteaks by hand into small chunks, and add to the pot. Stir, breaking the meat up with your spoon, until the meat is browned.

Put the tomatoes in a blender with the tomato puree and blitz until liquid. It will be a bit pink and a bit fizzy. This is OK. You can also use a small can (200g) of tinned tomatoes instead, I just happened to have some tomatoes going begging. Pour the tomatoes into the ragu, then add the boiling water and beef stock.

Stir well again, then bring to a boil. Allow to boil for twenty minutes, by which time it will be very thick and rich. Season with black pepper and taste. You probably won’t need any salt, with the grillsteaks already being seasoned, but you can add some if you think it’s required.

While the ragu is simmering, you can prepare the mushroom sauce and the salad. The mushroom sauce is so easy, some might even say it’s cheating. I would never say that. Oh alright – it’s cheating. Delicious, delicious cheating. This recipe makes enough for three thin layers, on a lasagne for two. Here’s how you do it:

  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 150g chestnut mushrooms
  • pinch salt
  • 50g cream cheese
  • 4 tbsp milk
  • 20g parmesan, grated
  • black pepper

Chop the mushrooms really finely, then add to a frying pan with the oil and salt. Fry them for several minutes, until cooked through. Add the cream cheese, mashing it a little to help it melt in the pan, then tae off the heat, add the milk and stir until mixed. Stir in the parmesan and, if required, more milk to make a thick but pourable sauce. Season with black pepper.

 

The salad I served was really simple, just rocket, cucumber and tomato. I cut the cucumber and tomato into wedges, put on a chopping board and covered with a good handful of rocket. I drizzled with balsamic vinegar and then ginger flavoured rapeseed oil, then scooped up into a fancy soup bowl to serve. I thought that dressing the salad this way might help keep it light and avoid a pool of dressing in the bottom of the bowl. Also I felt very avant-garde.

 

 

OK! By this time your ragu should be ready, so you can layer up the lasagne. The dish I was using, which is adorable and has polka dots, is an awkward size so I had to break up lasagne sheets to fit. If you have a dish that will exactly fit the lasagne sheets you’ve bought, or if you can make your own and cut them to size, so much the better!

Start with a layer of pasta, which will make it easier to serve your finished lasagne. Add a layer of meat sauce, then mushrooms sauce. Do the same again: pasta, meat, mushroom. Finally, add a layer of lasagne to the top, coat this with the last of the mushroom sauce and sprinkle over 30g of grated parmesan. then season with black pepper.

 

 

Bake the lasagne at 200 C for 20 minutes, until the top layer is browned and crispy round the edges.

 

 

Serve with salad and garlic bread.

 

 

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About Rock Salt

Seasoning while rocking out since 1983. View all posts by Rock Salt

12 responses to “Venison and Mushroom Lasagne

  • Heather @ SugarDish(Me)

    I think the salad made quite a nice companion for this lasagne! I read the title of this post and was waaaay excited- venison is plentiful here (if you live with a hunter and can find a decent butcher for the processing) and I like having new tricks for the preparation. Plus I adore mushrooms. And lasagne. Yay!

    • Rock Salt

      Very kind of you to mention the salad, it was extremely self effacing in letting the other two have all the attention 😉 Venison is probably my favourite meat, and I am very jealous of you being able to get it so fresh! We do have plenty of deer here in Scotland as well but it’s still quite expensive, so it’s more of a treat. It’s more versatile that people realise, I think.

  • Simply Tia

    Looks like a fantastic meal. I’ve never had venison. Can you describe the taste? (in comparison to another & more popular meat)

    • Rock Salt

      It was so satisfying, all the way from preparing it, to looking at it, to eating it! Venison is like a rich, juicy beef, but with a stronger, gamier taste. If you enjoy a steak, I think you’ll enjoy venison. It’s so full of flavour, and you can eat it as a steak (rare, for preference!), in a stew or it’s very common here to see it as sausages.

  • Mandy

    What a fantastically brilliant idea! Love the venison ragu! A simple
    Way to create a deliciously different meal!

    • Rock Salt

      Aw thanks penpal! 😉 I will definitely make a venison ragu again, it was fab either as part of a lasagne or over spaghetti. Have the remaining portions in the freezer.

  • thekalechronicles

    Your lasagna looks delicious and I am tempted to try that mushroom sauce on its own.

    • Rock Salt

      Thanks so much – I am really pleased with how it turned out, and with the photos. The mushroom sauce would be great on its own over pasta, chicken, steak, baked potatoes… The list goes on!

  • bitsandbreadcrumbs

    This looks delicious enough to make me take another look at venison, which I’ve never cooked…or like Sharyn, try the sauce for sure! 🙂 I’m spreading a little blogging love around today! Check it out here: http://bitsandbreadcrumbs.com/2012/03/09/with-love-from-betsy/

    • Rock Salt

      Awwwww thank you so much! I’m really touched that you would mention me, never mind the award. I’ll get my post written, how fun to find out more about each other 🙂

      As for the venision, all I can say is that I love it, but if you’re not too sure of it, mixing it with a milder meat like pork could be a good way to try it out. It worked beautifully in this recipe.

  • filingawaycupcakes

    This looks so lovely and delicious! I love the bread you paired it with too. It is cool that you did not do a red sauce, like I had expected. Do you think there is room in this recipe for mushrooms?

    • Rock Salt

      Thanks – I like to experiment with lasagne, though I haven’t made one in such a long time. I think I see more of them in my future! I think mushrooms would be delicious in the ragu, the only reason I left them out was because I was using them in the creamy sauce. If I was just making the ragu for pasta I’d absolutely put in plenty of mushrooms, I love them 😀

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