Pappardelle with Venison Ragu

1 teaspoon fresh rosemary leaves

4 fresh sage leaves

2 bay leaves

1 cinnamon stick

1 teaspoon juniper berries

1/8 teaspoon whole cloves

1 lb venison shoulder, cut into 1-inch cubes

1 celery stalk, quartered

1 carrot, peeled and quartered

1 yellow onion, quartered

1 1/2 cups red wine

1/2 recipe basic egg pasta dough or 1/2 lb purchased fresh or dried pappardelle

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

For Ragù:

1 teaspoon fresh rosemary leaves

1 fresh sage leaf

1 bay leaf

1 cinnamon stick

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1/4 cup each diced yellow onion, carrot and celery

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1 cup peeled and chopped plum (Roma) tomatoes

1/2 cup red wine

2 tablespoons dry Marsala wine

2 1/2 cups meat stock

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Place the rosemary, sage, bay leaves, cinnamon stick, juniper berries and cloves on a square of cheesecloth (muslin), bring the corners together and tie with kitchen string. In a shallow nonaluminum bowl, combine the venison, celery, carrot, onion, wine and cheesecloth bag. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

The next day, make the basic pasta dough, if using. Divide the dough into 2 pieces, one twice as large as the other. Shape the large piece into a ball, cover with a bowl to prevent drying and set aside; reserve the smaller piece for another use.

Remove the venison from the marinade, discarding the marinade. In a deep pot over high heat, melt the butter. Add the venison and brown on all sides, about 10 minutes. Transfer the meat to a plate and set the meat and the pot aside.

FOR RAGU: Place the rosemary, sage, bay leaf and cinnamon stick on a square of cheesecloth and tie securely with kitchen string. In the same pot, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onion, carrot and celery and sauté until the onion and celery are translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, cheesecloth bag and tomatoes and sauté for 2 minutes. Add the venison and red wine and cook for 2 minutes.

Add the Marsala and continue to cook for 1 minute longer. Add the stock and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, uncovered, until the venison is tender when pierced and about 2 cups liquid remains, 45-55 minutes.

Meanwhile, roll out the basic pasta dough, if using, 1/16 inch thick. Cut into noodles 3/4 inch wide. Gather loosely into small piles; set aside to dry for at least 30 minutes.

When the sauce is ready, using a slotted spoon, remove the venison; set aside. Discard the cheesecloth bag. Ladle the vegetables into a food processor and purée. Return to the pot over low heat, bring to a simmer and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the venison and simmer until the sauce is thick, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, fill another deep pot three-fourths full with salted water and bring to a boil. Add the pasta all at once and stir gently. Cook until al dente, 2-3 minutes for fresh pasta and 6-8 minutes for dried. Drain briefly in a colander, then immediately transfer to a serving bowl.

Add the melted butter and toss well. Add the venison ragù and toss again. Serve immediately.