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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Add the chopped tomatoes, stock, red wine, herbs, sugar and tomato puree to the slow cooker/ pan. Season and mix well.
- 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.
- After this, remove the meat and shred it with 2 forks (it should fall apart easily) and return the pieces to the tomato sauce.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- To cook it, place the pasta in boiling salted water for only 2-3 minutes. Taste it once done, it should be cooked through.
- Serve it with the ragù! Top with plenty of parmesan obviously.
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.