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Slow Braised Venison and Pesto Lasagna

Slow Braised Venison and Pesto Lasagna

By Mike Robinson

When Chef Mike Robinson makes this rich and hearty lasagna, he uses muntjac shoulder and other parts from the small Southeast Asian deer, but venison shank makes a good substitute, and even lamb shank, though the flavor profile will be slightly different with lamb. Mike also uses wild garlic—which the muntjac eats—for his pesto. But because wild garlic has a short season and may not be easy to find—look for it at farmers markets—this recipe uses basil with some added garlic instead. That said, if you can find wild garlic, or its cousin ramps, go ahead and try that and omit the garlic cloves in the pesto.

Prep Time

1 Hr

Cook Time

3 Hr
30 Min


Signature Pellet Blend


This recipe serves:


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Units of Measurement:
Meat Sauce
4 1/2 Pound venison shanks or lamb shanks (2 to 3 depending on size)
3 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
3 Sprig fresh rosemary, chopped
2 Teaspoon sea salt, preferably smoked
2 Teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 Tablespoon Cholula or Traeger Hot Sauce
1 carrot, peeled and diced
1 yellow onion, chopped
8 garlic cloves
1 medium hot chili pepper, seeded
2 Cup beef stock
2 Cup dry red wine
2 Cup lightly packed wild garlic or fresh basil leaves
Sea salt
1 Tablespoon almonds
1 Tablespoon hazelnuts
1 garlic clove
freshly ground black pepper
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
Juice of 1 lemon
1 Tablespoon finely grated pecorino cheese
1/2 Cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 Tablespoon unsalted butter
1/4 Cup flour
3 Cup whole milk
1/4 Teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
1 Sprig fresh rosemary
2 Tablespoon finely grated pecorino cheese
1 Pound "no cook" lasagna noodles
Finely grated pecorino


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    Mike Robinson Lasagna Recipe

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  • 1

    Make the meat sauce: Preheat the Traeger with the lid closed to 450°F; this will take at least 15 minutes

  • 2

    Meanwhile, in a large bowl, toss the meat with enough oil to coat it well. Add the chopped rosemary and season well with salt and pepper. Add the hot sauce and toss to coat.

  • 3

    Place the meat directly on the grill grates and cook on one side until browned, about 5 minutes. Flip and cook on the other side until browned, about another 5 minutes. Transfer the meat to a roasting pan and turn the grill down to 350°F.

    350 ˚F / 177 ˚C


  • 4

    Add the carrot, onion, garlic, chili pepper, stock, and wine to the roasting pan. Cover the pan with a piece of parchment paper, then cover the pan tightly with foil. Place the pan directly on the grill grates and cook until the meat is fall-off-the-bone tender, about 2 ½ hours.

    350 ˚F / 177 ˚C


  • 5

    Meanwhile, make the pesto: Put the basil in a medium bowl and season with 1/2 teaspoon sea salt. Meanwhile, in a food processor, combine the almonds, hazelnuts, garlic (can omit if using wild garlic), and a pinch of pepper. Add the lemon zest and juice, cheese, and a pinch of sea salt. Add about 2 tablespoons olive oil, then pack in the basil leaves. Process, adding more oil as needed, until smooth and pourable. Set aside. (Cover and refrigerate if making more than a couple hours ahead.)

  • 6

    Reserving the liquid in the roasting pan, remove the meat and bones from the roasting pan and let the meat cool until you can handle it. If the liquid in the pan is very thin, heat it until thicker. Meanwhile, pull the meat off the bones into bite size pieces. Return the meat to the roasting pan with the liquid. Let cool while you make the “white sauce” (aka bechamel).

  • 7

    Make the bechamel: Melt the butter in a 4-quart saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the flour and cook, whisking constantly, until golden, about 5 minutes. Slowly whisk in the milk until combined. Add the white pepper and rosemary sprig and cook, stirring occasionally, until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 5 minutes. Remove the rosemary and stir in the pecorino.

  • 8

    Assemble the lasagna: Spread a ladleful of the meat sauce over the bottom of a deep 9x13 baking dish. Top with lasagna noodles to cover. Top with more meat sauce to cover, then drizzle with the bechamel and dollop all over with the pesto. Repeat layering the noodles, meat sauce, bechamel and pesto to make two more layers. Sprinkle a little pecorino over the third layer. For the fourth layer, top the noodles with the meat sauce, then the pesto, and pecorino. For the fifth layer, omit the meat and top the noodles with only the bechamel to coat completely. Dollop the pesto over the bechamel, then grate more pecorino over the lasagna.

  • 9

    Adjust or heat the Traeger to 400°F. Bake the lasagna until golden brown in spots, and bubbly, 45 to 50 minutes.

    400 ˚F / 204 ˚C


  • 10

    Let the lasagna rest briefly before slicing and serving. Enjoy!

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