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Wild game: Venison with Vodka Sauce in “Braising the Wild”

Jack Hennessy brings Venison with Vodka Sauce this week in “Braising the Wild.”

Venison with Vodka Sauce in “Braising the Wild.” Credit: Jack Hennessy
Venison with Vodka Sauce in “Braising the Wild”
Jack Hennessy

Jack Hennessy sticks with his “Cooking during Quaratine” theme, so the protein part of the recipe may be subbed out as desired or needed.

Here is the recipe:

VENISON WITH VODKA SAUCE

Let me first say: While this recipe has venison in the title, this red vodka sauce can be used for any domestic or wild meat you have on hand. That includes the spring jakes and toms being brought home and chopped for the freezer. If you’re using wings, leg, or thigh meat from wild fowl, remember likely a minimum 4 hours of simmering those cuts in fats and juices is required to tenderize that meat.

And, yes, you can of course buy vodka sauce at the store, but is it really vodka sauce? I doubt it, and you miss out on that bite (potentially a small buzz) when you first taste-test this, before 1 hour of simmering causes the alcohol to burn off.

Yes, the vodka (for better or for worse) burns off during simmering, so you can safely serve to children. In keeping with my “Cooking During Quarantine” rules, this recipe calls for canned and dry ingredients most of us will have readily available, or, at least, be able to source quickly from the grocery store.

Ingredients (four servings):

16 ounces ground venison

14.5 ounces diced (chili-ready) tomatoes

1/2 cup tomato paste

1 cup vodka

1/2 medium yellow onion, finely diced

2 large cloves garlic, finely diced

1/2 tablespoon dry oregano

1/4 tablespoon dry parsley

1/2 tablespoon white sugar

1 teaspoon black pepper

Salt to taste

Olive oil

16 ounces favorite pasta

Shredded parmesan cheese for garnish (optional)

In medium pot heated on medium-low, add a thin layer of olive oil followed by finely diced onions. Lightly salt and pepper. Cook until slightly brown and soft.

Once onions are slightly brown and soft, add garlic and stir for a few minutes to release flavor, then add vodka.

Allow vodka to reduce to half, then add remaining sauce ingredients: diced tomatoes, tomato paste, oregano, parsley, sugar, and black pepper (salt to taste at end). Turn to low heat to simmer for 1 hour.

After 1 hour, boil pasta and strain water. Set pasta aside.

In a medium skillet heated on medium heat, add ground venison and lightly salt and pepper. Cook until done.

To serve add 4 ounces of pasta topped with 4 ounces of ground venison then top with sauce. You can also choose to garnish with dry parsley and shredded parmesan.