Slow cooked lamb ragù with homemade tagliatelle

Ragù is one of the most delicious Italian dishes- in the North of Italy the ragù is made like a bolognese, with minced meat, but in the South, the meat is slow cooked for hours and hours until it falls apart in a wonderfully rich sauce. I used a slow cooker for this dish- I have the ‘Instant pot’ slow cooker, however you can easily make this recipe in a pan ( I have included how to do this in the recipe). For all the vegetarians, lentils are a great way to substitute the meat in a ragù (see note at the bottom). I have decided to make fresh pasta with this recipe (I have included how to make it with and without a pasta machine), but you can buy it (I would recommend buying the fresh tagliatelle though, in the fridge section of the supermarket, rather than the dry stuff).

Ingredients: (serves 6)

For the ragù:

  • 1 white onion, finely chopped
  • 1 bulb garlic (this sounds like a lot, but makes it v tasty), finely chopped
  • 2 carrots, finely chopped
  • 2 sticks celery, finely chopped
  • 1kg lamb- I used lamb leg on the bone, as it is less fatty than shoulder (you can use beef if you wanted too, or dried red lentils if vegetarian)
  • 800mg (2 x 400mg cans) chopped tomatoes
  • 250 ml stock
  • 125 ml red wine (use wine that you would happily drink, rather than the cheap stuff)
  • 3 rosemary sprigs
  • Handful of thyme sprigs
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tsp tomato puree

For the pasta: (alternatively you can buy and cook according to packet instructions)

  • 500g “00 flour (this is a special pasta flour, which is thinner so makes the pasta silkier, you can find this in most major supermarkets, I have seen it in Sainsbury’s and Waitrose)
  • 5 free range eggs

Method:

  1. To start the ragù, add the onion, garlic, carrots and celery to a pan with a little oil. Season. Fry for about 5 minutes, until the veg start to release their flavour. Then add this to the slow cooker/ a side plate if not using a slow cooker.
  2. Season the meat. In the same pan, brown the meat on all sides with a small amount of oil. A few minutes max on each side is fine, it is just to ‘seal’ the meat, which keeps the flavours in when it slow cooks.
  3. Then add this to the slow cooker, on top of the vegetables. If not using a slow cooker, return the veg to the pan with the meat.
  4. Add the chopped tomatoes, stock, red wine, herbs, sugar and tomato puree to the slow cooker/ pan. Season and mix well.
  5. Slow cook/ leave on a very low heat for about 7 hours until the meat is tender. For the last 30 mins to 1 hour I take the lid off and let it simmer.
  6. After this, remove the meat and shred it with 2 forks (it should fall apart easily) and return the pieces to the tomato sauce.
  7. To make the pasta, in a food processor add the flour and eggs. You can also mix this by hand. Pulse the food processor until the flour looks like breadcrumbs and form into a ball on the surface. If using your hands, mix with a fork until combined, on a clean floured work surface.
  8. Then place the dough on a surface which has been floured very well, you want to stretch out the dough and kneed it back in (this helps to develop the gluten and give the pasta a bite). The technique doesn’t really matter for kneading, just push and stretch out the dough, then pull it back in. Keep repeating this until smooth (about 5-10 minutes).Wrap the dough very securely in cling film to prevent it drying out, and leave to rest for 30 minutes.
  9. I am using a pasta machine for this, but you can just use a rolling pin and keep rolling the pasta if you do not have one. I took off 1/4 of the dough at a time as you will not be able to achieve thin pasta using the whole thing. Cover the other 3/4 of the pasta with cling film, so it does not dry out in the meantime.
  10. If you are using the machine, secure it to a table and put the dough through the thickest setting on there, to thin it out. Repeat this about 5/6 times. Each time, lightly dust the dough with some flour to prevent it sticking.
  11. Then put the machine on a thinner setting and roll the pasta through it. Repeat this until very thin (about twice), not too thin though, you should not be able to see your hand through it.
  12. Then to shape it- I use the machine setting to get the long thing strips of pasta for tagliatelle, alternatively you can used a sharp knife to cut long thin pieces.
  13. To cook it, place the pasta in boiling salted water for only 2-3 minutes. Taste it once done, it should be cooked through.
  14. Serve it with the ragù! Top with plenty of parmesan obviously.

Enjoy!!

For the vegetarian lentil ragù- make this in the exact same way, however add 500g  dry red lentils instead of the meat to the pan/ slow cooker. You will only need to slow cook this for a couple of hours.

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