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Tagliatelle with Rich Three-Meat Sauce

Wild game with pasta? You bet.

While I was growing up, spaghetti wasn’t a favorite. My brother and I ate a lot of the canned stuff, and we ate numerous pastas from boxes. If we were low on food in the pantry, my mom would sometimes do the unthinkable by using ketchup for sauce, which still traumatizes me to this day. Don’t get me wrong: My mother is a fantastic Vietnamese cook, but when she decided to go “ethnic” – which included anything outside of Vietnamese – my brother and I never knew what we were going to get. Spaghetti was one of those foods, and we still joke about it today. I’ve had it in so many uninspiring ways that I used to avoid it altogether as a young adult.

About three years ago, however, I had my very first taste of wild game. I became completely enthralled, not only with the process of hunting, but also with the endless culinary possibilities that wild game held. That’s when my boyfriend Rick and I started our blog called Food for Hunters,  where we share our wild game cooking adventures. “Tagliatelle with Rich Three-Meat Sauce” is hands-down one of our favorite wild game recipes. It’s hearty, rich and cooked with three different types of meat: ground venison, pancetta and the ever suspicious chicken liver. It’s a pasta dish that I never mind having, and organ haters need not be scared: This dish doesn’t have too much liver in it – just enough to give the three-meat sauce an extra something special.

Servings: 4

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cooking Time: 30-45 minutes


• 4 tbs. olive oil, extra for drizzling

• 3 ounces of pancetta (or lean bacon), diced

• 1 onion, chopped

• 1 garlic clove, minced

• 1 carrot, chopped

• 1 celery stalk, chopped

• 1⁄2 lb. ground venison

• 1⁄4 cup of chicken liver, chopped

• 1 cup of crushed tomatoes

• 1⁄2 cup dry white wine, such as Pinot Grigio or Chardonnay

• 1 cup beef stock

• 1⁄2 tbs. dried oregano

• 1 bay leaf

• 1 lb. dried tagliatelle (pasta)

• salt and pepper, to taste

• grated Parmesan cheese, for serving

1. Over medium-heat, heat 4 tbs. of olive oil in a large heavy-bottom saucepan. Add chopped pancetta and cook for 3-5 minutes, or until just turning brown. Stir occasionally. Next, add chopped onion, carrot, celery and minced garlic. Cook for another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

2. Turn heat to high, add ground venison and cook for 5 minutes, or until browned. Break up meat with a wooden spoon and stir in chopped chicken liver. Cook for another 2 to 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.

3. Pour in 1 cup of beef stock and 1⁄2 cup of dry white wine. Add 1 cup of pureed tomatoes, 1⁄2 tbs. of dried oregano, 1 bay leaf, salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cover and simmer for 30 to 45 minutes, or until sauce reaches desired thickness.

4. As the sauce simmers, bring a pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add the tagliatelle pasta and bring back to a boil. Cook according to package directions until tender but firm, al dente. Drain cooked pasta and transfer to a warm serving bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and toss well.

5. Discard bay leaf and ladle sauce over pasta. Toss again. Serve immediately with grated Parmesan.

Tagliatelle with Rich Three-Meat Sauce. Jenny Nguyen/Food For Hunters
Tagliatelle with Rich Three-Meat Sauce.
Jenny Nguyen/Food For Hunters

About Jenny Nguyen-Wheatley

Jenny Nguyen-Wheatley is Nebraskaland Magazine's associate editor. She enjoys hiking, camping, horseback riding, hunting, fishing and wild game cooking.

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