Story & Recipe #1: Journal Welcome & Andy's Venison Ragu
A warm welcome to our Mac & Wild Journal. We’ve been having so much fun down here at the London restaurants this past 4 years, its taken us until now to get this started. Since opening the new restaurant back at ‘home’ in the Highlands this summer, we’ve been reminded of just how important the wider Mac & Wild story and family is to everything we do!
We hope the journal will become a small window into life back in the Scottish Highlands. A way for us to share and celebrate the wonder, beauty and creations of a modern and progressive Scotland. She’s been our home, childhood, business inspiration and increasingly our escape from the stresses of modern life. Scotland is a very special place for both of us, regardless of business, and we are so very grateful for that. From feedback, it seems many of you also find her bleak, windy, rugged exterior just a little bit charming! Your continued support is truly humbling – thank you from the bottom of our hearts.
Our plan is to share stories, adventures, recipes, inspirations and works from other creatives hailing from or connected to the North that we think you might find interesting/provide a little escape. But let’s see how it goes and what you like to hear about! We would love your feedback or suggestions!
Calum Mackinnon & Andy Waugh (Mac & Wild, co-founders)
Andy’s Wild Venison Ragu
(trust us it is worth the extra steps – please don’t skip)
They say the way to a man’s heart is through their stomach… as one of our Mac and Wild family, we are guessing this could be true for many of you. As such, we thought we would kick things off with a little treat. Below is the secret code to Andy’s all time favourite recipe (that is quite a claim trust us) – Venison Ragu! Leaner and very often cheaper than beef, the rich earthy flavours of wild venison make for the most perfect supper on a blustery Autumn evening. To share or not to share of course is the question!
…Next week, we’ll be bringing you a little tour of Ardgay Game – our family butchery back in the Scottish Highlands and of course the heart of the Mac and Wild story.
Until then, slainte and tuck in!
500g x venison mince
1 x leek finely sliced
2 x onion finely diced
3 x shallot finely diced
1 x celery stick finely diced
2 x carrot grated
1 x tins of tomatoes
500g x amazing cherry tomatoes (blended)
1L x quality stock (chicken, beef, veg etc) – must have flavour and texture (buy 3L shop stock and reduce if you have to)
1L x cep mushroom stock (add 1L hot water to dried ceps and leave to infuse for 1-3hrs). Pass through a sieve to retain the liquid and mushrooms separately. Finely dice the mushrooms.
Heat the pot with 1tbs veg oil. Brown the mince in 250g batches – breaking up all the meat. Brown until all the moisture has left and the meat begins to caramelise.
Pour into a bowl and leave to one side.
In the same pot, medium-low heat, add the onion, shallot, carrot and celery and sweat down until they go dark brown and sticky – do not burn. This should take 25-45mins. Keep moving around.
Add the tomatoes to the veg.
Mix in the mince with any juices.
Pour over your stocks including the diced mushroom, top up with water to cover the meat.
Pop the lid on and bring to the boil.
Put in the oven at 130-140C over night – top up with water when necessary. You can leave to simmer for 4hrs if you’re in hurry.
When ready, remove from the oven, take off the lid and reduce to a consistency you are happy with. Season to your liking.
To finish & serve (to feed 4)
2tbs heaped x ragu
100-150ml x quality olive oil
Pasta of choice – I love pappardelle
200g x wedge Parmesan grated
1 x shallot brunoise (< 3mm cubes)
1 x bunch picked basil leaves
Pour the olive oil into the ragu and mix through – leave on a very low heat on the hob.
Bring water to the boil and stick in your pasta of choice. Bring off the heat whilst very al dente 6-7mins – pour the pasta over a bowl and collect 500mls of pasta water.
Put the pasta back into the pan, pour over the ragu/oilve oil and mix. Add a ladle of pasta water (don’t worry about putting too much, the pasta will absorb it). Stir in the cheese followed by the shallot and basil.
You should be able to hear the pasta when you stir it – an Italian once told me that.
Congratulations, you’ve made it to pasta heaven.