Rich Lamb Ragu

by Food Hound on January 21, 2013

in Main Dishes, Meat, Soups and Stews

Post image for Rich Lamb Ragu

It’s only a matter of time before I have a huge dilemma on my hands.

Lamb is probably our favorite meat. Lambs make an appearance in just about every book we read to our sweet babe.  The lamb is her favorite character in ‘Moo, Baa, La La La.’  I just made killer Lamb Ragu, which she demolished.

She has no idea that it’s the ‘Baa.’

How long do I have till she realizes that Mary’s Little Lamb has been simmered in aromatics and wine to produce the Lamb Ragu she loves so dearly?

I am vehemently opposed to ‘food-fibbing’ (aka, ‘no, that’s not broccoli, that’s just green chocolate’), so that’s out.  I actually make a point to tell her what she’s eating because someday I want her to proudly tell all her friends that her favorite meal is her mom’s killer Lamb Ragu… although her friends will probably tell her it’s gross and she’ll come home wanting Hamburger Helper like a ‘normal’ kid, and I’ll cry myself into a batch of chocolate chip cookies.

So, since I don’t know what to do, I’ll take a page from Scarlett O’Hara’s playbook: ‘I can’t think about that today; I’ll think about that tomorrow.  In the meantime, I’ll make more lamb ragu.’

I think they cut that last part out of the movie, because I’m so totally kind of sure it was in the book.  Maybe if Tara had been turned into a sheep farm it would have helped revitalize the whole area and Scarlett would not have had to make a dress out of drapes.

Just sayin’.

‘Rich Lamb Ragu’ should make you run right out to your local butcher for one of Mary’s finest.  Not only is it the ultimate cold-weather bowl of classic comfort, but it’s LAMB.  It’s besties with red wine which, uh-oh, happens to be the primary simmering liquid of this luscious one-pot meal.  There aren’t that many ingredients, but they’re all perfect… truly a case of ‘less is more.’  And once the meat has been browned, and all the other goodies have been tossed in the pot, it braises in the OVEN.  Oven braising = the key to melt-in-your-mouth meat.  And it makes your house smell like rosemary-wine heaven, which is better than any Yankee candle (except for maybe buttercream… can’t ever beat the buttercream).

I have a few years till our young’un figures out that her favorite farm animals grace our table on a regular basis.  Maybe she’ll even go through a phase where she trades deodorant for hemp skirts and dreads, poses nude for PETA, and/or embraces veganism (please, God, let it just be (A)!!).  Hopefully I’ll just show her that mommy only buys sustainably raised, humanely treated meat, and along with listening to Lion King’s ‘Circle of Life’ a few times, she’ll accept that eating animals isn’t mean and that deodorant is for cool kids.  But until then, Lamb Ragu has a deliciously permanent spot in my rotation… and I’ll start reading ‘Horton Hears a Who’ because I’ll never make ‘Who Ragu’ 🙂

Rich Lamb Ragu
Serves: 6
  • 2 pounds lamb stew meat, cut into large chunks
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 onions
  • 4 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 8 cloves of garlic
  • 1 large carrot, peeled
  • Olive oil
  • 2 c dry red wine (Burgundy probably works the best)
  • 1 (28-oz) can peeled whole plum tomatoes
  1. Pat the lamb chunks dry with a paper towel- dry meat sears the best. Liberally coat them with salt and pepper and set aside for about 30 minutes to let them come to room temperature. In the meantime, peel and coarsely chop the onions, mince the garlic, and slice the carrot into thin rounds.
  2. Place an oven-proof Dutch oven or heavy stock pot over medium-high heat, and add oil to cover the bottom thinly. When the oil is hot, add the lamb and brown deeply on each side for about a total of 10 minutes. Do this in batches if needed to prevent over-crowding (you don't want your meat to steam instead of brown; that is not just something your mom warns you about- it actually happens and your meat will not be as tasty). I was able to brown my lamb in 2 batches.
  3. When the meat is thoroughly browned, remove it to a bowl or rimmed plate (to collect the juices) and add the onions to the lamb drippings in the pot. Lower the heat and cook slowly over medium heat for about 10 minutes, or until the onions are golden. Add the rosemary, garlic, carrots, ½ tsp salt and ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper. Reduce heat to medium-low and saute until vegetables are softened, about 5 minutes.
  4. Add wine and continue to simmer until liquid has reduced by half, about 10 minutes. Crush the tomatoes in the can with your hand (so, so cathartic!), then add them and their juices to the pot. Add lamb back to the pot. Bring to a simmer, then cover and place in a 275F-degree oven for 3-4 hours. When ready to serve, shred any remaining chunks of meat with two forks (or leave whole if you had smaller chunks of meat to begin with, like I did) and remove rosemary stems. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper, if desired.
The original recipe calls for minced fresh sage in addition to rosemary, but I left if out at the last minute because fresh sage can be VERY overpowering- I made the right decision, I think. I used a petite syrah, and found the end result to be delicious, but a teensy bit fruity. A burgundy would work best, and I will use one next time. I served this with a side of celery root puree, and I'm not sure I've recovered since. It was THAT good.








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