This Slow Cooked Lamb Ragu recipe is so easy to make and gives you a deliciously rich pasta sauce, perfect for a casual dinner party or family meal.
Slow cooking is such a great method for busy families and works really well for dinner parties too. Preparation is minimal and then you just leave it in the oven to work its magic.
Slow cooked lamb in the oven is one of my go to dishes. We often have it with mashed potato and roasted vegetables, or on a salad with feta and pomegranate.
We often make a lamb ragu with leftover lamb too. But this slow cooked lamb ragu pasta recipe is a relatively new recruit to our repertoire, thanks to my friend Kate.
The last person she shared the recipe with later served it up to her at a dinner party calling it his "signature dish" without realising she was the one who had given him the recipe! Lol, too funny.
Well I shan't call it my signature dish or even claim it as my own - but it is too good a recipe not to share here on the blog! So here it is.
Ingredients for Lamb Ragu
You will need the following ingredients for this lamb ragout of lamb. I also recommend using a large flameproof casserole. I use a Le Creuset casserole dish like this one.
- Olive oil
- Cubed lamb shoulder - shoulder is the ideal cut for long slow cooking times. Diced lamb leg will also work.
- Tomato Passata - you can substitute with tinned tomatoes if you don't have passata.
- Pancetta - ideally you want this as one thick slice that is easily removed at the end. You can replace with bacon but try to get unsmoked bacon.
- Herbs - Rosemary, Parsley and a Bay Leaf
- Anchovy fillets - don't be put off by these! They melt down to nothing and you won't even know they are there. They are often used in Italian dishes to add a subtle saltiness and "umami" flavor.
- Crushed Red Pepper - if you are making this for the kids you might want to leave this out, or just add a pinch.
- Parmesan Rind - adding a parmesan rind to a ragu or pasta sauce is a classic Italian trick to help boost the depth of flavor. You can leave it out but it will be better with it. We use a lot of parmesan in our kitchen so I always have a bag of rinds in the freezer ready to use.
How to make Lamb Ragu
To make this slow cooked lamb pasta sauce, start by searing the lamb - this helps give a good rich flavor to it. To do this, heat oil in your pan to a high heat and quickly cook the meat a few pieces at a time.
Next, cook the vegetables until soft and then return the lamb to the pan with the passata and water and bring to the boil before adding all the remaining ingredients.
Bring it back to the boil, put the lid on and then put in a low heat oven for around 2.5 hours.
Once it comes out of the oven, use a wooden spoon (or potato masher as my friend does) to break up the lamb a little to create a nice thick sauce.
Remember to remove the parmesan rind and pancetta before serving.
Serve it over pasta (I like rigatoni for this dish, but parpadelle is another popular option).
Tips and FAQs
Can you re-heat lamb ragu?
Yes! This tastes just as good when reheated, if not better as all the flavors have developed. Re-heat in a saucepan over a medium heat, stirring occasionally or re-heat in the microwave.
Can you freeze lamb ragu?
Yes! This is one of my go-to freezer meals. I love having something other than bolognese in the freezer when I want a quick pasta dinner! Keep it in a freezer safe container for up to 3 months. Defrost either in the fridge overnight or in the microwave and re-heat as above.
Can I cook this in my slow cooker?
Yes you can! If I use my slow cooker on low for 8 hours.
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Slow Cooked Lamb Ragu
- Cast Iron Casserole Dish with Lid
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- 700 g cubed lamb shoulder
- 1 carrot finely chopped
- 1 stick celery finely chopped
- 700 ml bottle tomato passata
- 1 cup water (240ml)
- 2 anchovy fillets
- thick slice pancetta approx 60g/2 oz
- 1 parmesan rind
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- small handful chopped parsley
- small handful chopped rosemary
- 1 bay leaf
- Pre-heat the oven to 150C / 300F.
- Season the lamb with salt & pepper.
- Heat olive oil in a large flameproof casserole dish over a high heat. Brown the meat a few cubes at a time on all sides, stirring frequently. Set aside while you sear the rest of the lamb.
- Lower the heat to medium. Add the carrot and celery to the pan and cook for around 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
- Now return the meat to the pan and add the passata and water, scraping up any bits stuck to the bottom (this will add flavor to the sauce). Bring to the boil.
- Add the remaining ingredients. Bring back to the boil.
- Put on the lid and transfer to the oven for around 2.5 hours (longer will not hurt).
- Before serving, remove the parmesan rind and pancetta. Use a wooden spoon to break up the lamb and stir to form and nice thick ragu.
- Serve over pasta (rigatoni or parpadelle are favorites) and sprinkle with parmesan and chopped fresh parsley.