Lamb, bay and lemon ragu

Serves 4
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 2 hours

Description

A surprisingly light, slow-cooked lamb ragu with a big splash of lemon-scented sunshine, as perfect for perking up cold winter days and dreary July washouts alike. This sauce works perfectly with any long, wide pasta such as tagliatelle, pappardelle or mafaldine but would be equally delicious stuffed into big pasta shells and baked with a little mozzarella and parmesan.

Method

1. Heat the oven to 160°C.

2. Warm a medium-sized casserole dish over a high heat and add 1 tbsp olive oil. Season the shoulder chops with a little salt and sear for 3-4 minutes until browned on all sides. Remove from the pan and set to one side.

3. Turn the heat down to low and add the remaining 2 tbsp of olive oil to the casserole dish. Add the fennel, shallots, celery and carrots and cook for 5 minutes, stirring regularly - don’t allow the vegetables to colour. Add the garlic, thyme and nutmeg and cook for two more minutes. 

4. Add the tomatoes and white wine, and return the lamb to the dish ensuring that the two chops are submerged. Place in the oven and cook for 2 hours, removing the lid for the final 30 minutes.

5. Remove the casserole dish from the oven, carefully remove the chops with tongs and place them on a plate. When they are cool enough to handle, remove all of the meat from the bone and discard any cartilage. Shred the meat back into the sauce and stir well. 

6. Use the parsley and lemon to make a gremolata. Grate the lemon zest into a bowl using a microplane or the ‘very fine’ side of your grater. Finely chop the parsley and combine with the lemon zest, then set to one side. 

7. Add the parmesan and juice of half the lemon to the ragu, stir well and return to the oven uncovered while you cook the pasta.

8. Cook the pasta in a large pot of well-salted boiling water until al dente.

9. Drain the pasta thoroughly and return to the pot. Add the ragu to the pasta, then add half of the gremolata and stir well. Taste, season with salt, and then serve sprinkled with the remaining gremolata and a few shavings of parmesan. 
 

Ingredients

2 lamb shoulder chops
Sea salt
3 tbsp olive oil
1 bulb fennel, very finely diced
2 shallots, peeled and very finely diced
1 rib celery, very finely diced
1 carrot, peeled and very finely diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 bay leaves
2 sprigs thyme
Generous grating of nutmeg
1 tin chopped tomatoes
200ml white wine
2 tbsp finely grated parmesan
Small handful fresh parsley
1 lemon
300g long pasta
A few parmesan shavings to garnish, if you’re feeling fancy