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September 2013 Issue
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Central Otago Hunter’s Ragu

Winter tramping in Central Otago can be a bit bleak at times. The trails are either frozen solid or ankle-deep mud and half the valleys never see any sunlight. But there’s an upside: in winter, the local deer population comes down from the tops. That means off-season for tramping is on-season for venison!

At this time of year in the south, it’s not uncommon to end up with a freezer over-flowing with venison. The typical solution is to throw it on the barbecue, but if you’re a bit reluctant to brave the cold to fire up the grill, here’s another possibility.


Serves: Four

Weight: 2000g

Volume:  2l

Kilojoules: 13,100

Cost: $15.50 (using caught venison)

Time: 3hr

Fuel: n/a


500g diced venison shoulder

500g diced pork

¼ cup olive oil

2 finely chopped onions

3 cloves crushed garlic

2 chopped carrots

2 sticks chopped celery

2 cups tomato puree

2 cups venison stock

2 cups pinot noir

1 stick cinnamon

2 whole bay leaves

Salt and pepper to taste


Put the oil, onions and garlic in a medium oven-proof dish and simmer till brown, next add the venison and pork and fry till lightly browned. Add the stock, puree, cinnamon, bay leaves and pinot and bring to a gentle simmer. Add the carrots and celery and simmer for 15min, then place in the oven for 2hr or until the meat almost falls apart when prodded with a fork (add a little water if it starts to dry out). Serve with mashed potatoes and a twist of pepper.