This Irish ingredient will elevate your lasagne to new heights

Kitchen Cabinet: Try using venison for your ragu to make a classic pasta dish with a difference

I always try to use Irish ingredients both in the restaurant and at home. The ingredients I have chosen for this recipe are easily accessible and will turn a humble dish like a lasagne into something even more delicious.

I love serving game in the restaurant. I always have venison on the menu at this time of the year and use the trimmings to mince and make lasagne. You can get venison in most small butchers. However, you could also use minced beef chuck. The beef doesn’t need to be too fatty.

At Crowe's Farm in the heart of the Golden Vale in Tipperary, the pigs are reared outdoor on the family farm and butchered on site. Since 1981 John Crowe has been using traditional farming methods to slow rear the pigs ensuring their welfare. I love their streaky bacon and it works really well in sauces and ragout.

For the cheese sauce, I use Hegarty's Cheese and Glenilen butter, which combined give the sauce a nice thick velvety consistency. In terms of pasta, Rummo do a particularly nice lasagne pasta, also available in a gluten-free option.


Wade Murphy is head chef and owner of 1826 Adare.

Venison lasagne

Serves 4-6


For the ragu:
1.5kg minced venison haunch or minced beef chuck
125g Crowe's smoked streaky bacon, diced
150ml olive oil
5 carrots, peeled and cut in small dice
2 celery sticks, cut into small dice
2 onions, finely diced
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
6 juniper berries
1 tbsp tomato puree
350ml passata
3 plum tomatoes, deseeded and diced
175ml red wine
25g plain flour
1.5ltr chicken stock
Sprig thyme

For the cheese sauce:
25g Glenilen farmhouse butter
25g plain flour
375ml milk, warmed in a pan75g Parmesan, grated
75g Hegarthy's cheddar chese, grated
2 tsp Dijon mustard

You will also need:
Lasagne sheets
Fresh basil leaves
Grated Hegarty's cheddar to finish


1 Preheat the oven to 190 degrees.

2 Add the olive oil to a large ovenproof pan and place over a medium-high heat. Add the venison mince and fry until the liquid reduces and it starts to dry out, stirring to break up the mince. Remove from the pan and set aside.

3 Add the smoked bacon and diced vegetables to the pan along with the garlic and juniper berries. Season to taste, then allow the vegetables to sweat down for five minutes until softened

4 Stir in the tomato puree, chopped tomatoes and passata and continue to cook for a few more minutes. Add 20g of the plain flour stir to coat the vegetables.

5 Pour in the red wine to deglaze the pan and cook until the liquid has reduced slightly. Return the venison mince to the pan and add the chicken stock. Cover the pan with a round of baking paper or a lid and then transfer to the oven. Cook for 35 minutes. Remove and set aside to cool.

6 To make the cheese sauce, melt the butter in a pan and once melted fold in the flour. Stir on a low heat for a few minutes, then gradually whisk in the warmed milk. Keep whisking until you have a silky, thick sauce. Stir in the cheeses and mustard. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper

7 Blanch your lasagne sheets in salted boiling water for a couple of minutes and cool in iced water.

8 Preheat your oven to 180 degrees/gas mark 4

9 Assemble the lasagne. Start with a layer of venison ragu, followed by cheese sauce then the pasta. Repeat three times; the final layer should be the cheese sauce. Bake in the oven for 30-40 minutes until golden. Remove from the oven and finish with grated cheese and fresh basil leaves.

Kitchen Cabinet is a series of recipes for Food Month at The Irish Times from chefs who are members of Euro-Toques Ireland, in support of Ireland’s food producers. #ChefsMeetProducers