lamb ragu: bridging the gap between winter + spring
First, the shopping – it is snowing right now. I kid you not. Almost April, and snowing. But … pop on in to your favorite boutique and guess what you’ll find? Short, flowy little dresses. Sandals. Shorts. Super-cute jumpsuits just begging to be worn.
Must you rub it in our faces that we can’t wear these things yet? I’ve grown accustomed to my new winter wardrobe, sure … and it’s been nice living in the ease of what feels like a uniform, but I for one am ready to ditch the black legging pants, black boots, sweater, and coat. I.e., I’m ready to not look exactly the same every time I walk out the front door.
Winter, it’s been fun – but I’m getting bored with you.
And with cooking, it’s the same. I’m getting all of these emails from Food & Wine and such for spring dishes, bright green shots of asparagus and the like. Ramps, where for art thou? And don’t get me started on the rhubarb. I had plans for rhubarb scones this past weekend, for a tea party (recipes coming soon, just in time for your Easter brunch!) and the rhubarb … it was no where to be found.
I’ve been thinking about you, and what you might like to cook for Easter dinner – or what you might like to cook period right now. And in a nod to spring, with a safe-for-winter disclaimer, the idea to cook lamb ragu was born.
Lamb is spring, ragu is winter. And this dish happens to be of my favorite things I’ve ever made. Get into it!
Gregg and I served his cumin lamb dish at ABODE, and it was one of the most popular things on that menu. Magic happens when lamb shoulder (we also used neck) is slow-roasted, and while we slow-roasted ours overnight at ABODE, this version is way more home cook-friendly.
A new formula to try for your braise! Read on …
The process for this recipe is similar to how these short ribs work, or any braise, really. The difference is, instead of beginning with searing the meat on the stove, you roast it in the oven. I don’t want to overcomplicate this for you, but think about it. A sear, which is what gives you great flavor in your meat, only occurs for a few minutes. Instead, pop the meat in the oven for an hour and now your meat is exposed to dry heat for much longer – leading to much deeper flavor. The thing with a braise is that the flavor of the meat often gets lost in the cooking liquid, but with this technique, the meat gets a chance to develop much more flavor.
This is one of those Sunday recipes – it takes a while, but you can relax most of the time with a glass of wine in hand. Then, once you’re feeling good, you get to devour a bowl of pasta with super-moist and flavorful lamb meat. The best kind of cooking, if you ask me.