Along with some stunning Italian reds at our recent Tuscan tasting, we were also treated to a taste of Mary-Jane Caro’s fabulous lamb ragu. This rich and hearty dish is a perfect match for both classic, Sangiovese wines, and modern Cabernet/Merlot Super-Tuscan blends.
This recipe is best made a day or two ahead of serving.
1 shoulder lamb approx. 2.5 kg – organic if available
2 red onions – peeled and cut into quarters
3 sticks celery – cut into large pieces
1 large leek – white part only cut into chunks
3 large organic carrots – cut into large pieces
2-3 large tomatoes – peeled and cut into quarters
1 head of garlic – cut across in half
3-4 rosemary sprigs
Decent handful of fresh thyme – tie this in a muslin herb bag
2-3 bay leaves
2 cans (400g) Ceres organic whole tomatoes
1 small jar organic tomato paste
1 750ml decent Italian red wine – if you can’t drink it DON’T cook with it!
Maldon sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Good Balsamic vinegar
Pre heat the oven to 200C.
Rub the lamb all over with the olive oil, sea salt and black pepper.
Using a sharp knife make small incisions in the lamb and poke in pieces of half the garlic and flowerets of rosemary.
Lay the lamb on top of the bay leaves and thyme. Put all the other vegetables, tinned tomatoes and the other half of the garlic around the lamb.
Put the tomato paste in a small bowl and mix in some of the wine so that it can be poured around the lamb.
Pour the rest of the wine over the lamb.
Cover very tightly with a double layer of foil and put it into the oven.
Turn oven down to 160C and cook for 4 – 5 hours.
Look at the lamb after 4 hours and see if it is very soft and bones are pulling away. You need to be able to pull the meat away with a fork.
When cooked, take the lamb out of the casserole and put it onto a large board to cool to the point of being able to handle. Pull the meat apart with two forks. DO NOT let it get cold or it will be a nightmare to pull apart.
Pour the vegetables and cooking liquid into a sieve over a large bowl and press down onto the vegetables to get all the liquid out that you can. Discard the cooked vegetables (Alternatively, puree them and save them for a good wholesome vegetable soup by adding them to chicken stock).
Let the liquid settle and then skim off the fat.
Put the pulled meat back into the liquid and if possible put in the fridge for 1-2 days.
Reheat gently and adjust your seasoning, especially the salt, and add a good slug of decent Balsamic vinegar.
You may want to thicken the jus just slightly with Arrowroot mixed into a little cold water.
I serve this on penne pasta or just use your favourite pasta.
Top each serving with:
A good teaspoon of finely zested orange mixed with finely chopped flat leafed parsley.