When the days get shorter and the air crisp, it is time to bust out the slow cooker and make up a big batch of Ragu, ready for a weekend trip to the mountains. I like to make this dish using a whole shoulder of lamb, but if you don’t have a slow cooker or heavy pot large enough, using diced shoulder will work just as well.
1 lamb shoulder or 4.5lbs / 2kg diced lamb shoulder
1 large brown onion, peeled, diced
3 stalks celery, finely diced
2 carrots, peeled, cut into small dice
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 chicken stock cube
1 large can of tomatoes
1 tablespoon of rosemary
1 bay leaf
- Heat a large heavy based pot or frypan over high heat. Sear the lamb on all sides until well browned. Set aside.
- Turn heat down to medium and add; onion, celery, carrot and garlic. Stir constantly until softened and slightly coloured.
- Add tomato paste and cook for 1 minute before adding remaining ingredients.
- Place lamb in the bottom of the slow cooker and add vegetables, season well with salt and pepper, use enough water to just cover the lamb.
- Cook with the lid on for 6-8 hours on low. Alternatively, return lamb to pot and cover with a lid and cook in a slow oven for 3-4 hours.
- Remove lamb, increase heat and reduce sauce by one third to thicken. Once lamb is cool enough to handle, shred and return to sauce. Adjust seasoning.
- Allow ragu to cool completely in the fridge overnight. Remove any hard pieces of fat that have set on the surface. Using ziplock bags, divide into meal sized portions and freeze until needed.
- Using lamb shoulder, either whole or diced, allows you to create the velvety moist texture a well-cooked Ragu should have. Lamb leg which is much leaner is not suitable for this kind of dish.
- Wrap the frozen portion/s well in paper and use for the first nights dinner.
- Serve with pasta, mashed potato, greens or even polenta
- This recipe can be made with stewing cuts of beef instead of lamb if desired