OLIVE OIL lamb shoulder CARROTS CELERY Yellow onion garlic tomato paste dry red wine Fresh rosemary & thyme dried bay leaves crushed tomatoes low sodium beef broth or stock kosher salt & black pepper pasta of choice heavy cream grated parmesan
Add 1 Tbsp olive oil to a heavy-bottomed pot with a lid over medium-high heat. Pat the lamb as dry as possible, then season generously with S&P. Add the seasoned lamb to the Dutch oven and cook until deeply browned on all sides, about 2-3 minutes per side. Work in batches as needed to avoid overcrowding the pot. Transfer the lamb to a plate and set aside. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
Add the remaining olive oil to the pot & reduce heat to medium. Once oil is hot & shimmering, add in the onion, carrots, and celery, seasoning with 1 teaspoon kosher salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the veggies are softened & deeply browned, 15-20 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant, 1-2 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste, stirring to coat the veggies, and cook for 1-2 minutes more, caramelizing the tomato paste.
Slowly pour the red wine into the Dutch oven, using a wooden spoon to scrape up the browned bits that have formed at the bottom of the pot – that’s where all the flavor is! Let the red wine reduce by about half (this goes by quickly!), then pour in the beef stock, crushed tomatoes, and the herbs. I like to use kitchen twine to tie them into a little bundle for easy removal. Return the lamb to the Dutch oven.
Cover the Dutch oven and place it in the oven to braise for 2 – 2 ½ hours. When it’s ready, the lamb should shred very easily – it’ll be tender enough that you should be able to shred it right in the ragu by using the back of a wooden spoon. Remove from the oven. Remove & discard the spent bay leaves & herbs. Shred the lamb & stir to combine. At this point, you can cool & store for later use, or proceed with prepping lamb ragu pappardelle or gnocchi.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, until the pasta is cooked to al dente according to package directions. Carefully dip a liquid measuring cup into the pot, reserving about 1 cup of the starchy pasta water, and set aside. Carefully drain the pasta – do NOT rinse it! Meanwhile, as the pasta boils, bring the braised lamb ragu up to a simmer. Stir in the heavy cream & parmesan cheese. Continue to simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally.
Add the al dente pasta or gnocchi to the simmering ragu sauce, tossing to coat such that the pasta is evenly coated in sauce. If the ragu is thick & needs to loosen up some, drizzle in some of the reserved starchy pasta water. If the pasta is loose & needs to thicken up some, sprinkle in some extra grated parm. Cook over medium heat for 1-2 minutes, until the pasta or gnocchi absorbs some of the ragu & the ragu clings to the pasta or gnocchi beautifully.
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