This warming slow cooker lamb ragu is the perfect comfort food. Throw it all in the slow cooker in the morning for a delicious effortless meal at dinner time.
Is there anything better than having a big pot of warming ragù filling the house with devine smells, only to sit down to a delicious meal at the end of the day with practically no extra effort needed? What about if its served with some super easy air fryer garlic bread on the side?
First, you might be wondering what does Ragu mean?
A ragu or ragù is a hearty rich Italian sauce made of meat and tomatoes that's slow cooked over time to develop its wonderful flavors. Its typically made with mix of carrots, onions and celery, also known as a soffritto.
What goes with lamb ragu?
Lamb ragu is typically served as with pappardelle pasta, a type of large, very flat pasta, sort of like super size fettuccini. The ragu also pairs beautifully with gnocchi, a small round pasta often made out of a potato based dough or with beautiful cream polenta.
To serve I like to sprinkle mine with some shaved parmesan and chopped parsley, some garlic bread and a large glass of red wine!
What is Ragu vs Bolognese?
Bolognese, the pasta dish loved the world over, is actually a specific type of ragu. Bolognese is typically made with ground beef and traditionally made with white wine with less tomatoes, although the modern interpretations vary hugely the world over.
What's the best cut of lamb to use?
For slow cooking over time you can use heavier, tougher cuts of meat that will mellow and become wonderfully tender without drying out. I prefer to use a deboned lamb leg or shoulder roast. Lamb shanks would also work wonderfully in this recipe.
I don't recommend light cuts of meat such as rack of lamb or lamb chops. They are usually more expensive cuts of meat and there's no point in using them, the meat will dry out.
Can I cook lamb ragu in a Dutch oven?
Yes you can. If using a Dutch oven cooking time with take about two to two and a half hours. If you use a Dutch oven you can sear in as well it makes for an easy one pot sauce.
Can I cook lamb ragu in an instant pot?
Yes you can, but of all the ways to cook the ragu this is the one I like the least. An instant pot may cook the meat fast but you won't get the wonderful depth of flavor that comes from slow cooking gently over time. My preferred method it in a slow cooker because it allows me to set and forget it early in the day!
Lamb: shoulder or leg roast works best for this recipe. I like to trim the fat and fry it off to get the wonderful flavor out, then remove the crispy bits of fat and use the rendered fat to brown the cut up lamb.
Onion: brown onion works best in this recipe but at a pinch you could use red onions or white.
Carrot: fresh carrots work well in this recipe. You could try using tinned or 1 cup of frozen instead, in which case I would add them half an hour before the end of cooking, making sure you drain the tinned veg first. If you are using frozen you don't need to defrost them first.
Broccoli stalk: some fresh broccoli stalk adds to the savory flavors of this sauce. Traditionally celery is used in place of broccoli. But I hardly every have celery and it always seams like such a waste to buy a whole one when I only need a couple of sticks. I do usually have a head of broccoli in the fridge, and using the stalk means I can use the rest of the head of the broccoli in another recipe.
Garlic: some freshly crushed garlic adds to the flavor of this sauce. At a pinch you could add some garlic from a jar instead, in which case I would increase the amount to half a tablespoon.
Rosemary: I use fresh, finely cut rosemary for maximum flavor in this recipe. You could use dried rosemary instead if you prefer, but make sure hasn't been sitting around in a draw for two long or there will be no flavor left.
Red wine: a splash of red wine adds to the depth of flavor in this sauce. The long cooking time largely evaporates the small amount of alcohol this adds to the dish. You can leave it out if you prefer.
Beef stock: I used a beef stock cube in this recipe to add to the richness of the sauce. You could try substituting with chicken instead if you prefer, but it won't have the same depth of flavor.
Passata: a large jar of passata or sugo forms the tomato base for this recipe. You could use a diced tined tomatoes instead if you prefer.
Worcestershire sauce: is a wonderful savory sauce from the UK that adds wonderful umami flavor. If you can't get Worcestershire sauce you could try substituting it with A1 Sauce or soy sauce.
Pappardelle pasta: is a type of very wide, flat pasta that soaks up that beautiful rich sauce and works beautifully with this recipe. You could also use lovely soft gnocchi or if you're not fussed about being traditional, any other type of pasta you have on hand. This would also work well on a creamy bed of polenta.
How to make slow cooker lamb ragu
Mix flour, salt and pepper in a bowl. Remove the string and fat from the lamb, keeping aside the fat. Cut the lamb into large chunks, about an inch big.
Dice the onions, broccoli stalk and carrots. Finely chop the rosemary.
In a large heatproof jug add the beef stock cub with half a cup of boiling water. Leave to stand for a minute, then whisk to dissolve. Add the passata, red wine, Worcestershire sauce and rosemary, mix well.
If you having a searing slow cooker, heat on high on searing mode. Cook the fat off cuts in the pan until the fat renders off and the pieces are crispy. If you don't have searing slow cooker you can do this step in a frying pan.
Coat the lamb pieces in the flour mix. Sear for five minutes in the hot lamb fat until seared on each side. Remove from pan.
Reheat pan. Cook the onions, celery and carrots for about five minutes or until beginning to soften. Turn off sear mode or remove from heat. Add the crushed garlic and stir well. You don't want to add the garlic earlier than this or it will stick and burn.
Add the lamb and any juices. Sprinkle over the finely chopped rosemary. Pour over the sauce. Cover with lid cook on low for seven hours, or high for four hours.
How to serve
To serve the lamb ragu pappardelle cook a packet of pappardelle pasta according to the packet instructions. Ladle over some beautiful sauce. Garnish with some chopped fresh parsley and freshly shaved parmesan cheese and serve with some of my super air fryer garlic bread. Delicious!
How to store
This ragu will store well in an airtight container in the fridge for up to three days, on in the freezer for up to three months in the freezer.
Have you made this recipe? Tell me how it went in the comments below!
Looking for more yummy recipes?
Why not try making
- Air fryer garlic bread
- Mushroom aglio olio
- Slow cooker lamb shoulder
- Roasted mini potatoes
- Damper - a classic Aussie bread
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Slow cooker lamb ragu
- Slow cooker
- 2 table spoons plain white flour
- 1 pinch salt
- 1 pinch pepper
- 3 lbs (1.4kgs) deboned lamb shoulder or leg roast
- 1 medium brown onion
- 1 large carrot
- 1 medium broccoli stem
- 3 cloves garlic
- 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
- 1 whole beef stock cube
- ½ cup (125mls) red wine
- 1 24 oz (700mls) jar passata
- 1 tablespoon worstichire sauce
- 1 small bunch fresh flat leafed parsley, finely chopped
- ¼ cup shaved parmesan cheese
- Add the flour, salt and pepper to a bowl and mix well.
- Cut the string off the lamb. Cut off the fat and set aside. Dice the lamb into large chunks, about an inch big.
- Dice the carrots, onion and broccoli stalk. Peel the garlic. Finely chop the rosemary.
- Put the stock cub into a large heat proof jug with half a cup of boiling water. Leave to soften for a few minutes, then whisk to dissolve. Add the red wine, worshesture sauce and passata.
- If using a searing slow cooker, pre heat on high sear, otherwise use pre heat a frying pan.
- Coat the lamb pieces in flour.
- Add the cut off fat to the pan, cooking until the fat starts to render off and it becomes brown and crispy around the edges. Remove and discard.
- Heat the pan up again. Add the coated lamb, shaking off any excess flour before adding. Cook on high, moving around to ensure all sides are seared and starting to brown. Transfer to a heat proof bowl.
- Re heat the pan. Add the diced carrot, onion and broccoli stalks. Cook, stirring frequently until vegies are starting to soften and caramelized. Turn off heat.
- Add the crushed garlic and stir well. Add the browned lamb and any juices from the bowl.
- Sprinkle over the rosemary. Pour over the sauce so that all the lamb and vegies are covered.
- Cover with the lid and cook on low for seven hours, or on low for 4 hours.
- Fifteen minutes before the pasta is done, boil and water and cook the pappardelle pasta according to the packet instructions.
- Strain the pasta and add to serving bowls. Top with lamb ragu sauce and toss through pasta.
- Garnish with shaved parmesan and chopped parley. Delicious!
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Shilpi & Etienne
This is a great recipe for the entire family! One that can be enjoyed both by adults and kids! Nothing beats a Slow cooked lamb shoulder! Juicy, tender and great flavour! And yes, a side of crispy garlic bread would be perfect!