A simple slow-cooked elk bolognese sauce, the perfect hearty sauce for your elk harvest. #wildgame #elkmeat #elkbolognese
Fish & Game Recipes

Elk Bolognese Sauce

A simple slow-cooked elk bolognese sauce, the perfect hearty sauce for the cold, winter season. Serve over a bowl of pappardelle or your favorite pasta and top with a little fresh parmesan cheese. The perfect wild game dish for your elk harvest.

A simple slow-cooked elk bolognese sauce, the perfect hearty sauce for your elk harvest. #wildgame #elkmeat #elkbolognese

What is Bolognese Sauce?

Bolognese sauce is a traditional meat-based sauce from Italy, named after the town Bologna. It’s typically served with egg noodles such as tagliatelle or pappardelle, but can also be used with traditional spaghetti noodles or even in lasagna.

Traditional bolognese uses ground beef or minced pork, which makes it a great option for a wild game version using ground elk meat. Elk carries a very similar flavor to that of beef, so it’s an easy swap.

What is the difference between elk meat and beef?

Besides the obvious answer, these two forms of ground meat are actually similar with just a few differences.

  • Elk meat carries a similar flavor to ground beef.
  • Elk meat is typically lower in fat and calories and higher in protein.
  • Elk is darker red meat, which can make cooking more challenging. It can easily be overcooked because of this, which leads to a dry finished product. Here are a few additional tips for cooking with elk meat.

Recipe FAQs

  • Elk meat has very little fat so it cooks faster than beef. It’s best around medium, which means it will retain some of its pink coloring. The meat will continue to cook as the sauce simmers, so cooking to about medium works well. 
  • If you need a dairy-free option, swap out the whole milk for coconut milk.
  • No elk harvest this year? No problem. As you know, I wasn’t able to secure my elk harvest during my 2018 over-the-counter hunt. However, you can usually find well-sourced elk meat at your local natural/organic grocer.

Can you freeze bolognese sauce?

The answer is yes! This elk bolognese sauce makes a pretty large batch, so storing the leftovers are important. Once the sauce has cooled, you can transfer to an airtight container, such as a mason jar, and store for 3 to 4 days in the refrigerator or freeze for up to six months.

a bowl of elk bolognese sauce served over pappardelle pasta

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Elk Bolognese Sauce

Elk Bolognese Sauce

A simple slow-cooked elk bolognese sauce, the perfect hearty sauce for your elk harvest. 
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time4 hrs 30 mins
Total Time4 hrs 40 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: bolognese sauce, elk bolognese
Servings: 24 servings
Author: mshreckengost

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped white onion
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 3 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 1/2 pound ground elk meat
  • 1 Tbsp dried Oregano
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 2 cups dry white wine
  • 2 28 oz cans crushed tomatoes
  • 1 20 oz can tomato sauce

Instructions

  • In a dutch oven pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the chopped onion, sea salt, and pepper and cook until softened. Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant. 
  • Add the ground elk meat, Oregano, and crushed red pepper flakes. Cook until done. Note that elk meat will retain some of its pink color. 
  • Add in the milk and wine and bring to a boil, then reduce down and simmer for about 20 minutes. 
  • Add in the crushed tomatoes and tomato sauce, bring to a simmer, then reduce down to low and cook for about 4 hours. 
  • Serve over pappardelle pasta. Store in an airtight container for 3 to 4 days in the refrigerator, or freeze for up to six months. 

Pin for later:

a bowl of elk bolognese sauce served over pappardelle pasta. There is another bowl in the background and fresh garlic and basil on the table nearby.

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