recipe to die for. Italian lamb ragout




Main ingredient       Lamb
Type of dish Italian
Course           Main course
Cooking time            30 min - 1 hour
Serves/makes           6-8
Special options         None

This braise can be made with any meat you like - beef, veal, pork, rabbit or goat. Serve in the middle of the table as part of a shared feast. Add a green salad and whatever beautiful seasonal vegetable is begging to be boiled and served with olive oil and lemon juice.
Instead of mashed potato, the lamb ragout can be served with soft polenta. The ragout also makes a perfect pasta sauce when served with penne finished with grated Parmigiano-Reggiano. Don't forget some bread for mopping up!
1.5kg good-quality lamb shoulder, cut into 3cm dice
6 fresh bay leaves
1 tsp juniper berries
1/2 tsp black peppercorns
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
500ml cabernet sauvignon
4 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium brown onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, crushed
2 1/2 Tbsp tomato paste
1 Tbsp plain flour
2 cups chicken stock
1 cup passata
2 medium carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
2 celery stalks, roughly chopped
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Combine the diced lamb with the bay leaves, juniper berries, peppercorns, rosemary, garlic and wine. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for eight hours.

2. Remove lamb from the marinade, pass liquid through a fine sieve and reserve. Discard other ingredients.

3. Heat 3Tbsp of the oil in a deep, heavy-based saucepan on a high heat. Seal marinated lamb in batches until browned all over. Reserve meat to one side.

4. Add remaining oil and reduce heat to low. Cook onion and garlic until softened. Add tomato paste and cook for a few minutes, then add the flour, stirring constantly for three minutes.

5. Slowly stir in two cups of the reserved marinade liquid, blending constantly for a few minutes until there are no lumps. Stir through stock and passata. Transfer lamb and juices back into the pan, along with chopped carrot and celery. There should be enough liquid to cover the meat (add a little more of the reserved marinade if necessary).

6. Cover with a lid and cook for 45 minutes to 1 hour until meat is tender and sauce has reduced. Check seasoning and adjust if necessary. Serve with mashed potato.