Set the Net

Recipes and snapshots of life in Bristol Bay, AK

Caribou Ragu

This is about the most delicious, savory smelling, to die for caribou dinner I have made to date.

It has been repeated more times than I should admit but everyone loves it around here,and it is in the top ten “What’s for Dinner?” requests hands down. Most likley this is what you’ll be served if you are invited to dinner! At least until the caribou neck in the freezer runs out…  Yes, you read that right, this recipe is made with large roasts of neck meat….are you still with me….hello?

No, I am not kidding. It is incredibly tender and melt in your mouth delicious. Seriously. Serve with a salad and a glass of red wine, over a glorious bed of pappardelle pasta noodles. I am especially fond of Seatlle’s La Pasta Spinach Pappardelle, which if you get Full Circle Farm CSA boxes you can order up easily, but seriously any egg noodle will do.

I suppose if you are fresh out of caribou neck, moose or venison neck meat will suffice nicely or for those of you city slickers pork shoulder [bone out] works in a pinch. I do not however recommend using other roasts of game meat for this recipe, it will not get you to the scrumptious end of melt in your mouth texture that the neck will, so in that case I suggest you stick with the pork.

Things to round up:

Medium-large Dutch Oven

2 to 2 1/2-pounds of caribou neck meat
1 small onion, chopped
5 garlic cloves, minced
sea salt
several cracks of pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small pat butter
1 large can whole tomatoes, with juice
1 cup red wine, plus more for drinking while you cook!
5 sprigs fresh thyme
5 sprigs fresh oregano
Small handful of fennel seeds
1 tablespoon hot sauce of your choice [currently I am using some smoked chili pepper sauce from asia that of which’s label is in Chinese, so wing it people]
Pappardelle enough for 6 hearty eaters [1-2 lbs]
Freshly grated Parmesan

Preheat oven to 325°F. Rub the caribou neck generously with sea salt and pepper, and allow to rest while melting butter and heating the olive oil in your Dutch oven over medium high heat. Once butter has melted and is hot, place the caribou into the pan and brown on all sides, this should take no more than 10 minutes. Be patient with this step, what you are doing here by browning the sides is adding rich flavor and locking in moisture, two things not to be rushed!

Add the onion and garlic and saute for 1 minute. Add in your can of tomatoes juice and all, the wine, thyme, oregano, fennel, and hot sauce and bring to a boil. Cover, and put in oven. Braise for 3-4 hours, turning your meat once an hour or so. Keep an eye on your liquid level, at no time should it dip lower than 1/3 of the way up your meat, if you get concerned slosh in a bit more wine or some water. Your Ragu is done when the meat practically falls apart when lifted by fork. Using tongs transfer your meat to on a cutting board and pull it apart with two forks, take out the stems from your oregano and thyme springs, then add meat back to pot and stir. Cook 1 to 2 pounds pasta to serve your caribou over top of.


For serving dish up your pasta into bowls and generously top with your Ragu and Parmesan cheese shredded or in big curls.

Adapted from Dinner: A Love Story 

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