A rich and delicious slow cooked lamb ragu with olives. Lamb leg is braised slowly in red wine, tomatoes and stock for an insanely amazing ragu for pasta. Olives add the perfect salty finishing touch to this absolute crowd pleaser dish. Serve with pasta, mashed potato, polenta or anything you love, just make it ASAP! The ultimate comfort food and a great recipe to make for friends and family.
Hello! HOW do I not have a lamb ragu recipe on my website, it's almost embarrassing! Off the back of the popularity of my White Pork Ragu and Beef Cheek Ragu here is my slow cooked lamb version. I was inspired to make this from a meal I had at my favourite restaurant Amano. I knew I had to recreate it for you asap and it's a really easy recipe to make.
Don't let the long cooking time put you off, it's mostly hands off time in the oven PLUS your house will smell amazing. The depth of flavor is incredible with slow cooking. I have gone for a classic Homemade Pappardelle Pasta because it just suits it perfectly. Use any pasta shape you like, fresh or dried.
Butterflied Lamb Leg - One of my favorite cuts of lamb. This should be easy for you to find at a supermarket or butcher. You could use a boned shoulder too. Dry the pieces with a paper towel and season well.
Soffritto - This is the classic combination of finely diced carrot, celery and onion that starts any good slow cooked Italian meat sauce.
Fresh herbs - I like to use fresh rosemary as it's a classic herb to use with lamb. You could substitute for thyme or use a combination of both.
Red wine - As much as I usually love slow cooking meat in white wine, red is the way to go here. Use a dry red wine you like the taste of. A pinot noir, merlot or cabernet sauvignon are all great options. You could use something like a chianti too.
Stock - Use lamb, beef stock or even chicken and the best quality you can find/afford.
Kalamata Olives - I LOVE olives, they add such an amazing flavor note in this ragu. Lamb and olives are a beautiful combination.
- Take your time browning the lamb and make sure it gets some good colour on it. I get two fry pans going at the same time so the lamb isn't overcrowded.
- Use a food processor to finely chop the onion mixture, you don't want big chunks of the vegetables.
- Make the ragu ahead of time if you can. Meat sauces are always better the next day as the flavors have combined and settled.
- Add your pasta straight into the ragu to finish cooking. I undercook my pasta by a minute to make sure it is still al dente after bubbling away in the sauce for 1-2 minutes.
How to make slow cooked lamb ragu
Full ingredient list and method is in the recipe card below.
- Sear the lamb pieces over a medium-high heat. At the same time you can cook the onion, carrot and celery mixture for 12 - 15 mins until soft over a medium heat. Use a heavy-bottomed oven proof pot.
2. Add the rosemary and garlic and cook for a further 2 minutes. Make sure you have added a big couple of pinches of salt and black pepper.
3. Add the tomato paste and cook for 2 mins more then add the red wine and let it reduce slightly.
4. Add the stock and tomatoes and bring to a gentle simmer.
5. Add the browned lamb pieces back in, cover and cook in the oven for 2 ½ hours.
6. Check the lamb is done by taking a piece out and seeing if it pulls apart easily.
7. Pull all the lamb pieces apart with forks.
8. Add the pulled lamb back in to sauce along with the olives.
9. Have it on a gentle heat on the stove top while you cook your pasta in a large pot of salted water. Let the cooked pasta bubble away gently in the ragu for a min or two. Finish with lots of freshly grated parmesan cheese!
Tips for the pasta
What shape to use
Hand rolled shapes are some of my favorite and are really sturdy so hold up well in a rich sauce like this. My hand rolled gnocchi sardi, homemade orecchiette or hand rolled pici pasta would all be amazing!
Weigh your pasta portions
I know this might seem excessive but I ALWAYS weigh out pasta portions. A guaranteed perfect ratio of pasta to ragu. For dried I allow 100 grams per person and for fresh, 150 grams per person.
Cooking the pasta
If using dried pasta then undercook it by a minute so you can let it bubble away in the sauce for a minute or two. Pasta doesn't have a lot of flavor so by letting it cook in the sauce you allow it to take on some delicious meaty flavor. It's quite hard to overcook fresh pasta so cook it as normal and still add into the ragu.
I highly suggest you do! Meat sauces are always better the next day. It will solidify in the fridge so reheat gently on the stove top and add a splash of pasta water to loosen if needed.
Yes! It makes a big batch, wait till it has cooled then transfer any leftover lamb ragu to an airtight container and freeze for up to three months. It will also keep in the fridge for 3-4 days.
Lamb leg will also work, both are great cuts for slow cooking.
Want some other pasta sauces to try?
If you loved this braised lamb ragu then check out my other meat sauces in my recipe section! My Best Bolognese Sauce is seriously outstanding if I may say so myself. For something much quicker my Delicious Sausage Pasta Bake is the way to go. I know I go on about it but if you haven't made my White Pork Ragu, you'll want to get on that asap.
Made this recipe and loved it?
I would love love LOVE if you could leave me a review down below and let me know what you thought! I love to hear any changes or adaptions you have made too. Also if you put a photo on instagram, please tag me so I can see, it makes my day!Print