This authentic Italian slow-cooked Lamb Ragu recipe is super easy to make and packed with flavours everyone will love. It is rich, hearty and meaty-ultimate comfort food for lazy weekends. And it goes perfectly with pasta (of your choice), gnocchi or polenta and a glass of red wine!
A nicely marbled shoulder of lamb is perfect for slow-cooked lamb ragu sauce but you can use a leg of lamb if you prefer. You can make this rich and meaty sauce with leftover roast lamb as well. Just make sure you reduce the cooking time to one hour and only use half the amount of liquid.
Why This Recipe Works
- Very easy to follow with step-by-step pictures and instructions.
- Perfect meal for a lazy Sunday lunch with a minimum of preparation.
- You can use leftover lamb from your roast dinner to make this delicious dish.
- It's hearty, delicious and full of Mediterranean flavours.
Ingredients and Substitutes
- Lamb - I use marbled cut meat with some fat for slow cooking whether it is lamb or beef. I use lamb shoulder for this recipe but you can use any other part of the lamb as long as they are marbled with some fat. You can cut your lamb chunkier to avoid extra hard work but make sure you cook long enough to achieve a "fall-apart" texture for the meat.
- Red Pepper - I use romano peppers but any sweet type of red pepper works with this recipe.
- Garlic - For less garlicy flavour you can use whole garlic and discard it after browning with oil but I prefer chopping and let it cook together with the lamb.
- Tomatoes - Any type of tomatoes you have in hand works well with this recipe. I even use cherry tomatoes if that's all I have in the fridge.
- Tomato paste - It is a great ingredient to enhance the tomato flavour as well as give a bright colour and umami taste to the dish.
- Bay leaves- You can use dried or fresh bay leaves for this dish.
- Dry white wine - Red meat generally requires red wine but this recipe works perfectly with white wine. Use any type of white wine that you would happily drink.
- Chillies - They are optional and you can adjust the amount to your taste. Fresh or flaked chillies, they both work perfectly if you like a bit of heat with your pasta.
- Stock - A good homemade stock is a key to delicious dishes. You need a small amount of liquid if your lamb is diced small. Add extra liquid if you cut your lamb chunkier.
- Grated cheese - Use your favourite hard cheese but pecorino or parmesan are the best options for pasta dishes. Try and avoid ready grated cheese as it contains preservatives and they don't melt together as well when cooking.
- Parsley - I use flat-leaf parsley but curly parsley works well too. You can replace it with thyme or oregano or omit it.
How to Make Slow Cooked Lamb Ragu?
Making this comforting dish is very easy and straightforward. However, to achieve the best results you need to follow a few simple steps:
- Brown the meat -Heat a large wok or heavy-based pan on low heat then add olive oil, garlic and bay leaves. Saute until the garlic slightly turns brown. Turn the heat up, add the lamb and saute until brown. You can skip browning the meat if you are using leftover lamb for your ragu sauce.
- Gently simmer low and slow - Add the dry white wine to the pan and reduce until syrupy consistency. Add the sweet red peppers and chilli (if using), then saute for few minutes. Stir in the tomato paste then add the chopped tomatoes, black pepper, salt and stock. Bring the pan to a boil and lover the heat. Gently simmer for 2 hours or until the meat is tender and there is hardly any liquid in the pan.
- Serve with pasta- When the sauce is ready, cook the choice of your pasta al dente. Don't cook the pasta all the way as it will cook extra few more minutes with the ragu. Add some pasta water if the sauce is too thick. Add chopped parsley, stir well and serve with grated parmesan or pecorino cheese.
For more delicious lamb recipes why not try:
Yes, you can cook braised lamb ragu 2-3 days beforehand and keep it refrigerated. You then just need to warm the sauce up and mix it with freshly cooked pasta or gnocchi when you need it. It tastes even better when reheated!
Ragu is a classic meat-based Italian sauce usually served with pasta. The type of meat can be minced/ chopped pork, lamb, beef, chicken, or duck. The meat is usually braised with some vegetables (onions, peppers, tomatoes, and carrots), some stock (lamb, beef, or chicken), and aromatics (rosemary, thyme, and bay leaves) low and slow. The most famous ragu is the Bolognese Sauce and it is usually served with pasta or used as a filling for Lasagna.
The best cut for lamb ragu is the shoulder which is perfect for slow cooking. The marbling adds lots of rich flavor to the ragu sauce and ensures that the meat stays juicy after long cooking. Leg of lamb or neck fillets are also suitable for ragu sauce.
Yes, this lamb ragu sauce is suitable for freezing so why not doubling the recipe up? Simply place the sauce in an airtight container already portioned and keep it in the freezer for up to 3 months. Defrost it in the fridge overnight and reheat in a pan slowly until piping hot, then serve with freshly cooked pasta.
Top Tip From the Chef
You can make this delicious pasta dish with leftover lamb from your roast dinner.
I hope you enjoy the process of making this hearty Pasta with Lamb Ragu as much as you enjoy eating it! 🙂
Bon appétit! / Afiyet Olsun!
Slow Cooked Lamb Ragu
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic (chopped)
- 2 bay leaves
- 300 g shoulder of lamb (or any other marbled cut you like) (1 cm cubes)
- 1 cup dry white wine (235 ml)
- 2 sweet red peppers (approx 150 grams) (sliced)
- 1 chili (red or green - optional) (chopped)
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 3 tomatoes (approx 300 grams) (chopped)
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ cup chicken or lamb stock (120 ml)
- ⅓ cup chopped parsley
- 400 g pasta (of your choice)
- grated parmesan or pecorino cheese (to garnish)
- Heat a large wok or heavy-based pan on low heat, add olive oil, garlic, bay leaves and saute until the garlic slightly turn brown.
- Add the lamb and saute until brown.
- Add the dry white wine and reduce until syrupy consistency then add the peppers and chilli (if using), saute for few minutes.
- Stir in the tomato paste then add the tomatoes, black pepper, salt and stock.
- Bring the pan to a boil, lower the heat and gently simmer for 2 hours or until the meat is tender and there is hardly any liquid left in the pan.
- When the sauce is ready, cook the pasta al dente following the instructions on the packaging and add to the lamb ragu.
- Add some pasta water if the sauce is too thick and add chopped parsley, stir well and serve with grated parmesan or pecorino cheese.
- Cook to a minimum temperature of 165 °F (74 °C)
- Don't leave food sitting out at room temperature for extended periods
- Never leave cooking food unattended
- Use oils with high smoking point to avoid harmful compounds
- Always have good ventilation when using a gas stove
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