Thursday, 4 July 2013

Organic Lamb Shanks with Mushroom Ragout/Ragu

When Napoleon invaded what is now the northern regions of Italy in 1796 he brought with him some delicious French influences. One of these is the sauce "ragout" which literally means "to revive the senses".  As is the Italian way, we thanked him for the recipe and changed it to ragu.

I have prepared an organic lamb and mushroom ragu recipe that I hope you will cook and share with friends this coming weekend. It is an exquisitely simple dish with only a few ingredients that rely solely on being fresh and seasonal. Treat the lamb with patience and respect and you will be rewarded with a meal that is hearty and full of flavor.

Serves 4


1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves fresh garlic (crushed)
2 medium onions, white or brown (diced)
4 stalks of celery, trimmed and chopped
450g of fresh button mushroom (sliced)
2 Massel chicken stock cubes
(Alternatively use homemade stock)
3 whole bay leaves
400g organic diced tinned tomatoes
 (Alternatively 500g skinned fresh tomatoes & 500g fresh passata)
500g boiled Rigatoni pasta
1/2 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
2 tablespoons lemon zest
4 large organic lamb shanks or 8 small ones.


First put half the oil in a large non-stick casserole dish. Heat over high heat and season the bottom of the pan with a little salt and pepper. Trim any fat off the lamb and season the top of the shanks with a little more salt and pepper. Brown the lamb by turning it every 30 seconds or so for 5 minutes till the shanks are nicely browned all over. When they are browned transfer the shanks to a plate.

In the same pan add the rest of the oil and turn the heat down to medium. Add the garlic, onion, carrot and celery. Cook for about 5 to 7 minutes or until these ingredients are softened. Now add the mushrooms and cook for about 2 minutes.

To create the stock take your chicken stock cubes and dissolve in 3 cups of hot water . You can also use your own home made stock or a good quality bought one. Pour the stock into the casserole dish along with the bay leaves and tinned tomatoes (or fresh tomatoes and passata) and bring to the boil.

Once the mixture is bubbling add the lamb and reduce the heat to low. Cover the casserole dish and simmer for about 2 hours, or until the lamb is very tender and almost falling off the bone.

If the sauce has not reduced enough for your liking, just take the lamb out and keep it warm under some foil and cook the liquid for about 5 to 10 minutes on high heat. When the sauce is how you like it, place the lamb back into the casserole dish while you cook the pasta. Cook your pasta as per packet instructions.

Choose some bowls from your collection that are nice and deep so that you can pile the ingredients up high and enjoying eating without splashing sauce everywhere.

Place the pasta in the bottom of the bowl, then the shanks followed by the mushroom ragout. Now scatter the finely chopped parsley and lemon zest over the lamb.

Bon appetito


Passata is literally just fresh tomato sauce. I will show you how to make it in the coming months. Meanwhile you can purchase it at most supermarkets.

If you are feeling that the evening calls for a meal with a little more depth just add 1 cup of white wine in place of 1 cup of water and rich creamy mash potato instead of the pasta xx