1 tablespoon olive oil, divided
1 ½ pounds American lamb shoulder, excess fat trimmed and cut into 1-inch cubes (see Recipe Notes)
1 medium yellow onion, finely diced
2 medium carrots, finely diced
1 stalk celery, finely diced
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup good red wine (see Recipe Notes)
1 cup low-sodium beef stock
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
2 bay leaves
1 sprig fresh rosemary
8-10 sprigs fresh thyme
optional: ¼ cup heavy cream
Kosher salt and ground black pepper, to season
for serving: gnocchi or pasta of choice, grated parmesan, fresh basil or parsley for garnish
Brown the lamb: Add the olive oil to a heavy-bottomed Dutch oven over medium high heat. Using paper towel, pat the lamb as dry as possible, then season generously with 1 teaspoon each Kosher salt and ground black pepper. Working in batches as needed, add the lamb to the Dutch oven. Cook the lamb until deeply browned on all sides, about 2-3 minutes per side. Be careful not to overcrowd the pan – it prevents browning! Transfer the lamb to a plate and set aside. At this point, preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
Cook the aromatics: Reduce the heat under the Dutch oven to medium. Add the onion, carrots and celery, seasoning with 1 teaspoon Kosher salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the veggies are softened and deeply caramelized, about 10-12 minutes. Add in the garlic and cook until fragrant, 1-2 minutes. Add in the tomato paste, stirring to combine, and cook for another minute or two to caramelize.
Deglaze: 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.
Braise: Cover the Dutch oven and place it in the oven to braise at 325 degrees F for 2-2 ½ hours. When it’s ready, the lamb should shred very easily. Remove the Dutch oven from the oven. Remove the herbs, then shred the lamb – 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. Stir to combine. At this point you can serve, set aside, or even freeze for later use.
Serve: Bring a pot of salty water to a boil and cook the gnocchi or pasta according to package directions. Meanwhile, as the gnocchi boils, finish the ragu. Add the ragu to a small skillet over medium high heat, about ½ cup ragu per serving. Drizzle in some heavy cream, about 1 tablespoon per serving. Stir to combine, then add in the cooked gnocchi or pasta. Toss to combine, then let cook for 1-2 minutes for everything to come together. Serve immediately, sprinkled with grated parmesan & fresh herbs, as desired. Enjoy!
PREP TIME: 15 Minutes
COOK TIME: 3 Hours