I think that ragu has to be my all time favourite dish to eat and cook! this is a slow cooked one with lamb and served with creamy parmigiano Reggiano polenta. if takes 5 hours in the oven or you could do it in your slow cooker and then reduce it on the stove which is the method I prefer. I used a bone in lamb shoulder as I wanted the extra flavours from slow cooking it on the bone. this would also work well with beef or pork. nothing pleases me more than the smell of this cooking, it is such a comforting dish and we love having it. I normally serve it with pasta but I wanted to create something a bit different for a change as I cook it so often and the polenta was a welcome change. I added loads of parmigiano Reggiano into it and then grated loads on top when I served it, lets be honest you can never have too much parmesan. (imagine me In a restaurant when the waiter comes over to grate parmesan on my pasta and I don’t tell them to stop until you can barely recognise its pasta underneath lol) this dish is perfect to cook for a family dinner or when you have friends over.
recipe for the ragu
half a lamb leg or lamb shoulder bone in
1 red onion
3 cloves of garlic crushed or finely chopped
4 rachers of smoked bacon or lardons
2 sticks of celery
1 large leek
250ml red wine
1 tin of tomatoes
1 jar or carton of passata
2 lamb stock pots with 500 ml of water or 500ml of lamb stock
2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp. brown sugar
salt (I like to use smoked salt)
pepper (freshly ground)
fresh oregano leaves from two stems
fresh rosemary leaves from two stems finely chopped
you will need a large lidded cast iron pan or you can use a slow cooker
preheat the oven to 150/160c fan
Add some oil in the pan and sear the meat to its nice and brown all over them remove and place on a plate while you prepare the other ingredients
chop the onion and add to the pan with a little more oil and gently brown, then add the bacon and garlic.
while that is browning chop the carrots, celery, leek and mushrooms and whiz in a food processor to finely chop or do it by hand, I like to use the food processor as it saves time
add the chopped veg to the pan and simmer, deglaze the pan with the wine and add the stock, tinned tomatoes and passata.
add the herbs, balsamic vinegar, sugar and salt and pepper
place the lamb back in, try and cover the lamb but its not important add a little more water if needed but it will take longer to reduce.
place in oven for 5 hours, stirring every hour and turning the meat and making sure there is enough liquid you don’t want it to dry out (add more water if you need to) after four hours check to see if the meat is tender it may be ready in four hours depending on the size of your meat then shred it and put it back in for the final hour or use your slow cooker set to the pot roast setting (this is my preferred method it will take longer but its less work).
the meat should be so tender that the bone should slide right out when it is ready after 5 hours if you left it in for that long. remove the fat and discard, then shred the meat with two forks (if you haven’t done that already) and add the shredded meat into the pan and simmer until the liquid has reduced.
tip. I have made this in the slow cooker then shredded the meat and poured it in a lidded cast iron pot and put it in the oven at 180c for an hour, then took it out and put it on the gas to simmer for 30 minutes and it was perfect this way. but you can do it all in the oven if you prefer but I found the slow cooker method easier as you don’t have to stir it every hour.
400g easy cook fine polenta
2 litres of water
4 tbsp. butter
100g grated parmigiano Reggiano cheese
I used a easy cook polenta that was ready in three minutes, check the packet for instructions on the timings.
bring 2 littles of water to the boil, then gently pour in the polenta while whisking, don’t pour in the whole lot in one go pour it in a slow stream so it doesn’t get lumpy while whisking constantly until its smooth, then add the butter and cheese and season with salt and pepper and serve right away. plate up by adding the polenta at the bottom of the dish and top with the ragu then grate some parmesan and add some fresh basil.