Elk, Bacon, & Stout Bolognese

There is one dish that my boys can always agree on and that is pasta. Last night I decided to spoil them and make a homemade sauce. Admittedly, I don’t often have the time to do that, but the weather was right and I had some elk to use!

This recipe doesn’t mess around with plenty of bold-flavored ingredients, but after the long and slow cooking process, they really work together and form a rich and hearty pasta sauce. You don’t want to rush this cooking process. Bolognese is best when given lots of time and love!

To make my prep work easier, I used my food processor to finely dice my carrots and celery. (just pulse a few times to make bits that are about 1/8 inch) If you like, you could also do your onion this way, but I feel it gives the sauce dimension to have ingredients that are different in size.

You can, of course, cut this recipe in half to make a smaller batch, but this sauce is so good leftover that it would work great to have in your freezer for busy weeknights!

Elk, Bacon, & Stout Bolognese

  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

18 ounces thick cut bacon, diced 1/2 inch

2 pounds ground elk (or other venison)

2 medium onions, diced

3 large carrots, peeled and diced very small

3 large celery stalks, diced very small

1/4 cup cup garlic, fresh, peeled and minced

6 ounces tomato paste

24 ounces stout beer (I used Guinness extra)

2 – 28 ounce cans crushed tomatoes

1 – 14 ounce can diced fire roasted tomatoes

2 teaspoons dried oregano

2 teaspoons dried basil

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon cracked black pepper (or restaurant grind)

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon sugar (optional)

4 teaspoons beef soup base (I used Better Than Boullion Roasted Beef base)

4 bay leaves

4 springs rosemary, fresh


In a dutch oven or another type heavy-bottomed pan with a lid, cook bacon over medium until very crisp. Use a slotted spoon to remove the bacon from the pan and leave 1/3 cup bacon grease in the bottom of the pan and remove the rest.

Add the ground elk and cook until brown and no longer pink, breaking up into small pieces while it is cooking. Add the onions, carrots, celery, and garlic and cook until the onions are translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the tomato paste to the pan and cook until it is no longer red and is a terracotta color, about 4 minutes.

Add the stout to the pan and use a wooden spoon to scrape any brown bits off of the bottom of the pan. Reduce by half and add tomatoes, oregano, basil, salt, pepper, garlic powder, sugar, soup base, bay leaves, whole rosemary sprigs, and the reserved bacon. Stir until combined. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce the heat to low, and place the cover on the pot.

Let simmer for 2 hours, stirring occasionally and using the spoon to continue to break down the meat and vegetables during the cooking process. Remove the bay leaves and rosemary stems. Season with additional salt and pepper, if desired. Serve over pasta of choice.

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