slow cooked lamb ragu with lemon, oregano & feta gremolata

This month’s #letslunch theme of your favourite stew was both easy and hard.

Easy...because selecting my favourite stew was a no slow cooked lamb ragu. It’s my go-to dish when I want something heartwarming and comforting, full of flavour and the lamb just falls off the bone and melts in your mouth. Perfect tossed through some freshly cooked pappardelle or served with quinoa, rice or barley.  It’s my base recipe that I easily create into new dishes.

Why was it hard? 

Well its summer over here in Sydney and it can get over 35C at my place and as I don't have air conditioning cooking with gas kicks up the heat to well over 40C.... turning my kitchen and lounge room into a sauna.....but hey I've got to stick with it ....aah what we do for the love of eating and writing about food!.

So if it's winter at your place.....this is perfect....but if your 'melting' like it for a few months time!

slow cooked lamb ragu with lemon, oregano & feta gremolata

Serves 8
Prep 20 min
Cook 3 hrs 50 min
2kg lamb shoulder (with the lamb shank included....if you're not confident with a knife get your butcher to remove this for you.)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large red onion, roughly chopped
1 large carrot, peeled, cut into 1cm pieces
1 red capsicum, roughly chopped
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
500ml organic beef stock
2 x 400g cans cherry tomatoes 
1/4 cup loosely packed fresh oregano leaves
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary leaves
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup kalamatta olives
1 1/2 cups quinoa

lemon, oregano & feta gremolata
1 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves 
1/4 cup fresh oregano leaves
1 cloves garlic, roughly chopped 
1 small lemon, zested and juiced
100g sheep milk feta, crumbled

  • Preheat oven to 170C (150C fan forced). 
  • Using a sharp knife carefully cut the lamb shank from the shoulder.
  •  Heat oil in a large flameproof cast iron casserole dish over medium high heat.  Cook lamb shoulder and shank for 2-3 minutes each side until well browned. Remove and set aside. 
  • Reduce heat to medium. Add onion, carrot and capsicum to pan. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally or until softened. Add garlic and cook, stirring, for a further 2 minutes.Stir in stock to deglaze the pan, getting all those yummy bits from the base of the pan. 
  • Return lamb shoulder and shank. Add cherry tomatoes, oregano and rosemary. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to a rolling simmer. Cover the surface with baking paper then cover with lid. Cook in preheated oven for 3 hours or until lamb is tender and almost falling off the bone. 
  • Remove baking paper and discard. Stir through olives. Return to oven. Cook, uncovered, for a further 30 minutes.   
  • Place quinoa into a saucepan. Add 3 cups water. Bring to the boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook for 10 minutes.  Set aside for 5 minutes. 
  • Meanwhile make gremolata by placing parsley and garlic into food processor . Pulse until finely chopped. Transfer to a bowl, stir through lemon zest, and olive oil and feta.  
  • Remove casserole from oven and skim off excess fat.  Carefully transfer lamb from pan onto a large chopping board. Using 2 forks, roughly shred lamb, discarding bones and any fat.  Return lamb back to pan, stir until combined. Season to taste with salt and pepper, if needed. Sprinkle with gremolata and serve with quinoa. 

Here's my little twists (of course omit the gremolata!)

French style
Use 2 carrots and 1 stick celery. Omit  capsicum and use whole peeled eschallots instead of onion. Add 200g small whole (halved if large) Swiss brown mushrooms. Omit oregano and add 2 bay leaves and some fresh thyme sprigs with the rosemary. Omit beef stock and use 1 cup chicken stock  and add 1 cup white wine.   Instead of gremolata make a lemon persillade by Increase parsley to 1 1/4 cups, omitting oregano and feta and use 2 cloves garlic.Serve with paris mash (aka mashed potatoes made with cream and lots of butter!)

Hearty Irish
Increase to 2 carrots and add 1 large celery stalk, chopped. Omit cherry tomatoes and use 1 litre chicken stock instead of beef stock and add 1/2 cup pearl barley.  Omit olives  and add chopped desiree (red) potatoes in the last 40 minutes.  Stir in some chopped spinach leaves, just before serving.

Moroccan adventure
Add 2 teaspoons ground cumin, 1 teaspoon ground coriander, 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric, 1 cinnamon stick and good pinch saffron.   Ad some chopped preserved lemon, 1 cup Turkish dried apricots or prunes or pitted dates in with some green olives (instead of the kalamatta) and just garnish with coriander (cilantro) and serve with some greek yoghurt and couscous.

Mexican spiced
Omit the fresh herbs. Add 2 teaspoon ground cumin and 1 teaspoon sweet paprika in with the onion. Instead of cherry tomatoes use 1 x 700ml bottle tomato passata and add 2 roughly chopped chipotle chillies in adobo sauce and 1 tablespoon adobo sauce. Add 1 teaspoon dried oregano in with the tomatoes. Instead of olives add a can drained rinsed kidney beans . Garnish with coriander ( cilantro) and  freshly cooked corn kernels. Serve with sour cream, lime wedges and rice or chargrilled tortillas.

Brazilian feijoada
Omit the capsicum. Add 2 chopped long green chillies, 2 chopped chorizo sausages and 100g chopped speck with the onions.  Instead of cherry tomatoes use 1 x 700ml bottle of tomato passata. Omit rosemary and oregano and add 2 bay leaves and half bunch chopped coriander (cilantro). Omit the olives and add a can drained, rinsed black beans. Finish with some fresh lime juice and garnish with segmented oranges and extra coriander leaves (cilantro). 

This was my post for this month's #LetsLunch, a monthly Twitter based food blogger's virtual lunch club. If you'd like to join the LetsLunch group, go to Twitter and post a message with the hashtag #LetsLunch or post a comment below!

 For more slow cooked recipe favourites from the #letslunch blogger crew click on the links below. I'll continue to update them as they come in.

Cheryl’s Sayur Lodeh (Malay Vegetable Stew) at Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan
Betty-Ann‘s Salmon Sinigang (Tamarind Stew with Vegetables) at Asian in America
Demetra‘s Coconut-Shrimp Soup at Sweet Savant
Linda‘s Chinese Soy-Braised Pork & Peanut Stew at Spicebox Travels
Lisa‘s Chicken & Fennel Casserole at Monday Morning Cooking Club
Margaret‘s Beef & Venison Stew at Tea and Scones
Mel‘s Lamb & Harissa Stew at The Cook’s Notebook
Rashda‘s Morocco-inspired Meatball Stew at Hot Curries & Cold Beer


Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan said... Best Blogger Tips

That looks DELICIOUS!! And thanks for braving the heat to share this with us. We need to do a Let's Lunch where we cook according to Australian temps! xx

Unknown said... Best Blogger Tips

LOVE the gremolata with feta. Am so making that. And will add to BBQ lamb chops too. Far easier to cook in a Queensland summer than a stew!!

foodnutzz said... Best Blogger Tips

Ooh that could be fun.....maybe 'Christmas in July' theme as many Australians are doing this now either as a dinner party theme or enjoying one of the many restaurant events around town ...being winter it's the perfect time to actually ndulge in those 'wintery white Christmas' traditions...unlike in December when some of us still struggle through it !

foodnutzz said... Best Blogger Tips

Glad you like the gremolata, would definitely be great on BBQ's also amazing on chicken and prawns. I also make it with basil or mint instead of the oregano.