Sunday, September 26, 2010

Lamb & Rosemary Ragu with a Hint of Chilli

My house was oddly quiet. Chris, Paige and Dora (our beagle puppy) headed off to the park and Zoe was having a sleepover at a friends house so I sat down to enjoy the quiet. But the peace only lasted about 20 minutes ( too hot at the park), but I am determined to produce this post as it has been waiting in the wings for some time, it was my favourite winter dish so I thought it would make a good farewell to winter and those who live in Cape Town are sure to get a cold snap in October to enjoy it. For those of us in Karratha, turn the aircon to 21 and just pretend because our winter is over for sure! Even though our winter temperature bottomed out at about 17 degrees I made this one afternoon and left in it simmering gently in the oven while we went down to the beach to enjoy our glorious winter weather. As we walked through the front door the aromas were heady with rosemary and rich tomato and even Zoe, my least adventurous eater, blurted out that something smelled delicious. I quickly cooked up some pasta and both kids dived in - as did the big kids! It was so yummy, Paige implored me immediately to please make this all the time. Even Zoe polished her plate and went back for seconds and then thirds. Unheard of in this house. As usual it is really simple to make but delivers so much in flavour it is worth the long slow cooking time.

Lamb & Rosemary Ragu with a hint of Chilli

I used a small leg of lamb which I boned and cubed myself, you could just as easily buy ready cubed lamb - I would have preferred a shoulder but my choice in Karratha is limited and I have to make do with what I can find. You could also easily substitute a nice fore-quarter cut of beef such as bolo or brisket.

For the rest of the recipe you will need:
  • Extra Virgin Olive oil
  • 4 - 5 large Garlic cloves peeled and bruised
  • 2 bottles Tomato Passata (750ml each)
  • 1 t Fresh rosemary chopped
  • 1/2 t Dried Chilli flakes
  • Parmesan rinds (if you have leftovers freeze them - they are great added to stews)
  • 3 Anchovy fillets
  • Salt

Heat your oven to 150 Celsius Pour a large glug of olive oil into a heavy cast iron pot which is suitable for the oven and warm through.
Add the garlic cloves and sauté for a few minutes to release the oils and brown slightly and then remove them from the pot and set aside.
Turn the heat right up and then brown the meat in small batches - if you add to much the meat never browns and starts oozing liquid. Remove each batch as it becomes well browned and then do the next batch.
Once all the meat is browned - reduce the heat to low and put all the meat and the garlic cloves back in the pot.

I also browned the bone and added that to the pot for extra flavour - I removed it before serving.

Add the rosemary, chilli flakes and anchovies and a little salt and fry for a minute.
Don't be afraid of the chilli it really makes the dish and both my kids lapped it up.

Add the tomato Passata and bring up to a simmer.
Put the Parmesan rind in (you will remove this at the end but it adds a richness and creaminess to the dish) and put the lid on.
Transfer to the oven and leave to simmer 3 hours.

Serve with buttered pasta shells or Casarecce (which is what I used). You need a pasta that holds the sauce well. Sprinkle with grated Parmesan and serve with a bold, juicy Shiraz. This is a seriously rich and decadent dish. Definitely at the top of my list of favourites


  1. Sounds fabulous, but what on earth is tomato Passata?

  2. It is basically liquidized tomatoes - smooth, no pips, you buy it in a bottle at the shops near the tomato sauces.

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