spicy slow cooked lamb shank ragu.

The weather is closing in which means the iron pot is out on the stove again and what better chill killer than a hearty slow cooked ragu?

Now meat ragu is not all the same – you wouldn’t pair beef with mint sauce – so it’s a puzzle why so many ragu recipes keep the same essential recipe and change the meat around. A while back I used Nigella’s recipe, but while loving the sweetness and the little spicy kick, minced lamb feels like a lackluster addition, and, unless it’s in my chewing gum or toothpaste, I feel the same about mint in cooking as I do coriander

Using some chunky butcher’s lamb shanks with all the fatty tenderness, made all the difference. To increase the sweetness I included a couple of large finely diced shallots, replaced the mouthwash herb with rosemary and added a tickle of balsamic.


  • 4 Large Lamb Shanks
  • 1 Can Tomato Paste
  • 3 Cans Diced Tomatoes
  • 1 Large Carrot
  • 1 Brown Onion
  • 2 Large Shallots
  • 2 Large Cloves Garlic
  • 1 Tablespoon Basil
  • 300ml Good Red Wine (I used Malbec)
  • 2 Large Red Chilies
  • Balsamic Vinegar
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • A couple of hours to kill.


Warm a heavy frying pan with some olive oil. Lightly flour your shanks and turn in the pan until browned. Set aside.

Get a heavy based saucepan and gently warm some olive oil. Wash and finely dice the carrot and add to pan. Cover and stir occasionally until slightly soft – about 5 mins.

Finely dice the onion, shallots, garlic and chili. Add with the carrots – cover and sweat for 5-10 minutes until soft.*

Add the paste, tomatoes, wine and basil and wait until at a fast simmer. Add the shanks and ensure that if there isn’t enough liquid you add enough that most of the meat on the shanks is covered. Add the pan lid, cook at very low heat under cover for an hour.

Remove the lid and check for tenderness on the shanks. From here it can be anywhere from 2-3 hours at a low simmer depending on tenderness. To give it an extra richness I gave it the latter and waited until the marrow had started coming from the bones. Removed the shanks, and finely shred the meat. Put the meat back it the pan and add a slug of balsamic and put on medium to high heat until the sauce is reduced and thickened.

Serve with pappardelleĀ or fettucine, some grana padano, friendsĀ and the rest of that wine.


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