Thursday, December 02, 2010

Slow cooked lamb & veggie ragu

This post has been lingering in draft form for aaages, and I finally have some time to tidy it up & get it posted! 
This recipe is certainly not groundbreaking, indeed when i read it the first time i kind of though, well, that doesn't sound exciting enough to even bother cooking. But I promise you, it is. Normally when I make this we use lamb shanks, rather than the fillets, because as we all know, meat cooked on the bone is more flavoursome, tender and juicy. However, in this instance I couldn't source free-range lamb shanks, so in accordance with my recently set resolutions I had to modify the recipe to fit with the ethically produced meat available. 

Slow cooked lamb & veggie ragu
originally adapted from a Weight Watcher's recipe of all things, but don't let that put you off
Serves 4 hungry people

4 small lamb shanks or 400g lamb fillet, chopped
olive oil 
2 or 3 cloves garlic  
1 onion, diced 
2 carrots, diced 
4 sticks celery, chopped 
500 g mushrooms (swiss brown are nice if they're not too expensive), chopped 
500 ml (half a litre) of good stock (i use chicken, even though it would make sense to use something meatier...)
1 whole bay leaf      
800 g crushed tinned tomato
400 g "short" pasta (eg penne, spirali, not spaghetti or fettucini) 
1/4 cup(s) Parsley, fresh, chopped


  • Season lamb with salt and ground pepper. 
  • Heat a few tablespoons of olive oil in a large non-stick casserole dish (a Le Creuset or similar) over high heat. 
  • Add the shanks or chopped fillet and brown, turning to cook evenly, for 5 to 10 minutes. Don't worry if your lamb is browning quite quickly, you're aiming to get a nice bit of colour on the meat & seal it off in preparation for the slow cooking portion. 
  • Remove lamb from pan & cover with foil. Do NOT wipe or rinse the pan, you want to keep the nice juices in there. 
  • Add a few tablespoons of olive oil to the pan, turn back to medium heat, add garlic and onion and cook for 3 minutes. 
  • Add carrot and celery and cook for another 3 minutes
  • Add mushrooms and cook for another 3 minutes.
  • Add stock, bay leaf and tomatoes and bring to the boil. 
  • Return the lamb to the pan. Make sure the lamb is pushed right down to the bottom of the pan so it's covered by the stock & tomato mixture. 
  • Turn the heat back to low, cover and simmer for 2 hours. Yes, this is a very long time. Yes, the meat will be falling off the bone when you're done - yum! 
  • Meanwhile, cook your pasta according to the directions on the packet, starting once the lamb has been in for 1:45. 
  • At this point, if you're using shanks, remove them from the pan to a plate and cover with foil to keep warm. If you're using fillet meat, ignore this step and treat the lamb as part of the veggie ragu. 
  • Taste the ragu and season as necessary then cook for 10 minutes over high heat to thicken up the sauce a little. 
  • Combine the cooked pasta, the veggie ragu and the chopped parsley all together (either in your pasta pot or your casserole dish, depending on what is largest).
  • Serve in shallow bowls and place a shank on top. 

Browning the lamb

Lots of veggies! 

Veggies + lamb + stock + tomatoes 

2 hours later, + pasta

Finally, slow cooked lamb & veggie ragu
And there you have it! It might not look glamorous, but it sure is tasty!