slow-cooked lamb ragu, pappardelle and gremolata

sideplateLast Saturday morning, I awoke to a forecast of 25 degrees C (77 degrees f). I excitedly hopped out of bed, put on a light long-sleeved jumper (I know that all of you northern hemisphere people will laugh at that, but I’m Australian after all) and headed to Perth City Farm for a long-awaited breakfast catch up with some university friends.

After toast and conversation, we had a wander around the sprawling market. I purchased a bunch of kale, organic shallots and tiny heads of garlic in a crinkled brown paper bag.


After squirreling them home, I decided to make slow-cooked lamb ragu; mostly due to the fact that it was finally cool enough to use the oven without sweating. As Aaron was out for the day (helping some friends renovate their house), I spent six hours kneading, rolling, typing, slow-cooking and photographing to a mixed soundtrack created by the beautiful Ali from Milk & Cereal (thanks Ali!).

It was blissful. Creative culinary solitude. Wonderful in a way that only foodies will understand.

mixtape raw

Later that evening, Aaron arrived home in a tumble of dust and fatigue. Whilst he showered, I boiled the fresh pasta and grated lemon zest into a pile of gremolata.

We sat on the couch, balancing plates of rich lamb whilst watching a re-run of Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows. Two hours later, with full bellies, we fell asleep.


This recipe makes a huge pot of delicious ragu. I estimate that with the pasta accompaniment, it’d serve six to eight reasonably hungry people (even more with a side of garlic bread).

Due to a recent obsession with my Marcato pasta machine, I made my own pasta; however for those less motivated (or more time-pressured) good-quality packet pasta is perfectly acceptable.

plateSlow-cooked Lamb Ragu with Pappardelle and Gremolata

Serves 6-8

  • 4-6 small lamb shanks (roughly 2 – 2.3kg bone-in weight = approx 1kg meat yield)
  • 1 large brown onion, finely chopped
  • 8 small French shallots, peeled
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
  • 4 slices rindless bacon or pancetta, finely chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, diced into 1cm pieces
  • 2 sticks celery, diced into 1cm pieces
  • 1 cup fresh rosemary, thyme and sage leaves, chopped
  • 1/2 cup (125ml) good-quality red wine
  • 2 cups (500ml) chicken or beef stock
  • 700ml bottle tomato sugo (substitute passata)
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2-3 anchovy fillets in oil, minced
  • 1/4 cup kalamata olives, pitted and halved (optional)
  • 1/4 cup double-podded broad beans (optional)
  • 700g fresh pappardelle pasta (or 500g dried)
  • shaved Parmesan, to serve


  • 1/2 cup fresh Italian (flat-leaf) parsley leaves, washed
  • finely grated zest from 1 lemon
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and finely chopped

Preheat oven to 160 degrees C (320 degrees f). Coat lamb shanks lightly in seasoned flour (pat lightly with your hands to remove excess).


Heat some oil in a large, heavy-based oven-proof pan over medium-high heat. Add the shanks in batches, making sure not to overload the pot. Cook for 3-4 minutes each side or until browned. Transfer to a plate, then set aside.

Add a little more oil to the pan if necessary, then add the onions, garlic, pancetta/bacon, carrot, celery and herbs.  Cook until softened and fragrant, approximately 10 minutes. Add the tomato paste, sugo, wine and anchovies; cook for 1 minute. Add the stock and stir to combine.


Return the lamb to the pan and bring the mixture to the boil. Cover, switch off the heat and carefully transfer the pan into your preheated oven. Cook, turning the shanks over half-way through cooking, for 3-4 hours or until the meat is falling off the bone.

Place the pan back onto the stove top over medium heat. Remove the lamb shanks and shred or break up the meat as desired. Discard the bones and add the meat back into the sauce with the kalamata olives, if using. Cook, stirring occasionally, for another 30 minutes or until the sauce has reduced by one third. Stir through the broad beans, remove from heat and cover with lid/foil to keep warm.


Cook your pasta until al dente (I used fresh Pappardelle that I made whilst the lamb was cooking in the oven). Drain well, then mix with 1/3 of the lamb ragu sauce. Divide between plates and top with another spoonful of sauce, shaved Parmesan cheese and a generous sprinkling of gremolata (directions below).

*To make the gremolata: coarsely chop the parsley and add it to a bowl with the lemon zest and finely chopped garlic. Grind over some black pepper and mix well.

side2 skins

106 responses

    • Haha, we sit on the couch to eat most days of the week… mostly as we have heaps of crap on our kitchen table (one of the drawbacks of living in an apartment!). The ragu was awesome. I decided to add the anchovies to ‘beef up’ (fish up?) the flavour a little bit… it worked brilliantly, melted down into some savoury, salty gorgeousness. Means heaps to have your approval though Graz. Chef endorsement, go me!

    • Aw Matt, you are ALWAYS invited! As long as I get to eat some of your Mexican food in exchange ;) Cannot wait for our Saturday cook up, it’s going to be grand!

  1. This looks heavenly… what lovely way to spend a quite afternoon. Oh, how I love creative culinary solitude (except it never happens in this house with all of the chaos!!) I bet Aaron loved having this gorgeous meal after a long day of work. I know I would! xx

    • Oh, I can imagine how difficult it would be to get some time alone with the kids demanding your attention. Aaron and I definitely want children one day but for now, I’m just appreciative of the ‘me time’ that I get whenever the hubby is out (like right now… I have a glass of red, a nice soft pillow and my laptop. Blissful!). Thanks for the sweet comment Em xx

  2. Oh, my! I’m collecting these lamb recipes for this fall when we are buying a lamb (some crazy friend thought that I was buying a live lamb…no, this one will look like it came from the local market, thank you very much). I’m so excited to get something besides ground lamb and leg of lamb, which is pretty much all that is offered at the stores. This looks so yummy!! Have a fabulous week. xx

    • Haha, it’d be cute to have a live lamb as a pet! Maybe not so cute if you had to slaughter it yourself, but… well. I won’t think further on that one! Hope that you get an opportunity to give this recipe a go Julie. We loved it, it’s definitely going to be a keeper in the recipe box! Slow-cooked lamb is definitely one of my very favourite things. Sending you a hug, hope that your week went well also! xx

    • Naw, you are the sweetest. The little garlic were so cute… I admit that I bought them more for the cute factor than anything else (as they were a huge pain to peel!). Thanks so much for the encouragement, love you xx

    • Thanks lovely. Gremolata is fabulous, isn’t it? The freshness just seems to bring out the flavour of rich slow-cooked dishes like ragu. I appreciate the kind words! x

    • Thank you lovely. I am such a fan of lamb… it’s one of my very favourite things to eat when cooked slowly. The dish was delicious, so good for an autumn night! x

  3. I loved the title of your post! Sounds like a menu item in a fancy schmancy restaurant. I’m not a fan of lamb even though I grew up eating it exclusively in England, but there you go…old age I suppose. However, I can imagine how good this tastes, slow cooked and with homemade pasta, nothing better. And I see The Lumineers on your playlist, Denver’s very own :)

    • Ah, yes. I think there can be ‘too much of a good thing’ if you grew up eating something in particular. I love lamb, particularly when braised or slow cooked. It ends up melt-in-your-mouth delicious! Thanks for the lovely words Naz. And YES, I’m loving the Lumineers at the moment! xx

    • Thanks Conor, that’s definitely high praise! Indian lamb shanks sounds delicious, I’m heading over to your blog right now to see if I can pinch the recipe. Lamb has always been one of my favourites so I’m always looking for new ways to cook it.

  4. Yum yum yum!
    I made almost exactly this the other day, but didn’t make a gremolata! Wishing I had after seeing how beautiful it looks. Bet it tastes beautiful too. Maybe adding gremolata means you can eat all sorts of wintery, comforting foods during the summer and get away with it… maybe!
    Nice work :)

    • Oh, the gremolata was such a nice addition! It make the whole dish much fresher…. deceptively lighter, too. I bet yours was wonderful too though, I’ve been drooling over all of your posts over the past few days! Thanks for the sweet comment, yum indeed! x

  5. This looks really great! Last Friday I made a pork ragu that I served with homemade pappardelle. I’m getting addicted to that partiular pasta shape! Haven’t made a lamb ragu, though — this sounds wonderful. Super post — thanks.

    • Oh, that sounds delicious John! We’re on opposite sides of the fence, I haven’t made a pork ragu before but I definitely want to after reading your comment. And yes, pappardelle is wonderful. So easy to make and so much surface area to carry the sauce. Love it! Thanks again :)

  6. Wonderful, Laura! Your ragu must have been so flavorful and I’m glad you found the time to make your own pappardelle. A ragu this good deserves the best pasta you can get your hands on. Homemade really elevates the dish. Lamb shanks seem to the post du jour. I’ve got a recipe coming up in the weeks to come. I must admit, though, you’ve set the bar pretty high. :)

    • John, you are the pasta guru! I’m still learning… it’s lots of fun and I was very happy with the pappardelle results but I still need some practice. The lamb shanks were wonderful! I am a huge fan of slow-cooking as soon as the weather starts to cool, so I’m rejoicing over the start of autumn. I can’t wait to see your ragu recipe. I am certain that it’s going to be mouthwatering!

  7. Even though tomorrow is the first day of spring up here, winter doesn’t seem like it’s going to be going away anytime soon. Might need to make this in order to help myself cope.

    • Ah, you poor thing. Our summer is hanging on just like your winter, for some reason. Today was absolutely boiling hot! Anyway, back to the ragu. Yes, I am entirely sure that it’s medicinal. A good slow-cooked dinner can bring warmth and comfort to the coldest of evenings x

    • It’s weird, isn’t it? Opposite sides of the planet. Hope that you’re managing to get some t-shirt weather over there (or at least sunshine, that’s a start!) x

  8. Laura,
    oh my goodness!! where to start with this gorgeous dish?! The homemade pasta is absolutely gorgeous and nothing compares to this . . you are inspiring me to find and break out my pasta maker! and I love that you had such a fabulous day, first with friends, then shopping and then cooking and being alone in your kitchen all day (I love creative culinary solitude; this is when I work best!) to enjoy such a delicious and hearty meal for dinner. Beautiful, beautiful dish! Love this!

    • Thanks lovely. Yes, I had the most wonderful of days! It’s funny how being alone can be therapeutic. I do love spending time with people but I admit that some of my happiest times have been when I’ve cooked alone in my kitchen! Glad that you get me ;) Definitely bust out your pasta machine, it’s worth the extra time and effort! xx

  9. Oh wow! I absolutely LOVE this, dear Laura!!! I love lamb and I love ragu, hmmm… Thanks for not incorporating any coconut! Ha! ;-) I am also most impressed by your making your own pappardelle – you really took care of every detail, from start to finish. Being Italian, the only detail that I would change in your post is your recommendation as to how long to boil the pasta: it should never be tender – always al dente! ;-) All right, now all I have to do is check my mailbox daily to see when my portion-sized food container filled with your delicious pasta al ragu gets here! ;-) Hope all is well, my friend. :-)

    • Stefano! It always makes me very happy to hear from you! Thanks so much for the extra tip on the ‘al dente’ pasta, I should change that in my post right now. I actually didn’t even think about the appropriate wording, a bit shoddy of me! I was very pleased with the results, considering that I’m still a novice when it comes to fresh pasta. I do wish that the pasta would last the journey over to you and Francesca… I don’t suppose that you’d like to come and have dinner at my house instead? :) I am very well. I do hope that you are too :)

  10. This looks amazing. You just can’t beat a slow cooked ragu with slippery fresh pasta. I have an Imperia and I adore it. Whenever I make fresh pasta, I vow to never eat dried pasta again. And then 5 minutes later we are rushing from school to football training and everyone is starrrrving and out comes the Barilla – what a life saver it is. Anyhoo, fresh pasta is a bit of a luxury and rightly so. It’s such a treat.

    • I feel exactly the same whenever I eat fresh pasta, it’s so delicious… but yes, time is definitely an issue! Barilla is actually a great substitute on time pressured days. I’m also lucky enough to have an Italian deli near me that sells wonderful ‘fresh dried’ pasta that they make themselves. Next best thing to making it yourself! Thanks for the comment lovely, you always put a smile on my face! x

  11. I understand about culinary creative solitude! There are days when I look at our (still warm) Autumn sun, and wish I could spend a whole day, or whole week, cooking, baking, taking photographs, and more importantly learning to do things better next time. Your ragu sounds fabulous, so rich, and just the thing with freshly made pasta. Since learning to make pasta and some types of noodles, I find myself making them at every opportunity. This might just become part of a dinner party we’re having in a couple of weeks time.

    • Hahaha, you are entirely right about the ‘still warm autumn sun’. It’s STILL warm, a week after posting this recipe! Ah well. At least the nights are a little cooler… I’m writing this whilst sitting by the breezy back door. It seems like a luxury to have cool air! Thanks for the lovely words. I am in love with fresh pasta at the moment, it’s so worth the time spent! Hope that your dinner party menu goes fabulously (I am certain it will, with your cooking skills!) xx

    • Hey there Connor. Thanks so much for the award, I appreciate it hugely! I’m no longer ‘officially’ accepting awards due to being overrun with them for a while, but I will stop by your post to say a huge thank you for the thought! Congrats on your nomination too, you have an awesome blog!

  12. Even though I don’t eat meat, I have to say that this looks amazingly mouthwatering, Laura! Your home-made pappardelle look perfect, and gremolata adds such a nice taste to almost everything (and I guess it’s perfect with slow-cooked lamb).

  13. Hi Laura, your blog pics are just stunning! you make your on pasta, which is on my list of things to make and you even have a play list to accompany one in the kitchen. Amazing!

    • Oh, definitely give the fresh pasta a try Cheri! It’s not as hard as it sounds. It tastes SO much better than the packaged variety. Thanks for the sweet words xx

  14. Laura, I am in love with this post – everything sounds and looks so utterly appealing! We love lamb shanks and there is nothing better than slow-cooking them into a delicious meal for the family! Your recipe is fabulous, the pictures are amazing (my favorite ones are the one with the onion skins and the freshly-made pappardelle) – I would love to try this recipe!
    Always, always such a pleasure coming here!
    Hope you are having a great week!

    • Thanks so much, they were my favourite photographs too… I am much better at candid/still life photography than styled pictures I think! Thanks for stopping by and leaving me a comment. I really appreciate the kind words xx

  15. everything is so yummy in this post right down to the garlic peel and onion skin. I wish there’s a plate of THAT pappardelle you cooked in front of me now. Slurp! :D

  16. Love nothing better than a good ragu and I’m so excited the cooler weather is wafting into Melbourne. Goodbye salads! Hello slow cooking! I’ve made two ragus recently too, a lamb and a veal. I LOVE the addition of broad beans and anchovies in yours. I can imagine it was positively bursting with flavour! Very impressed with your home-made pappardelle too.

    • Oh yum! I had forgotten about veal prior to eating some at a restaurant last week. So lean and delicious. Thanks for the kind words about the pappardelle! I was a little hesitant in posting as I’m just learning how to make fresh pasta, but it seemed pretty good to me. Thanks as always for the thoughtful words Saskia x

  17. Loving that slow Lamb Ragu and the beautiful silky ribbons of parpadelle. As for the gremoulata, that’s always the flourishing touch and I’ve no doubt this will scream comfort food in the upcoming months. Looks amazing Laura!

  18. Laura, What a gorgeous morning: food, shopping (for food!) and time with old friends. Your lamb ragu and pasta sound – and look – out of this world. I cannot imagine the time you spent making this gorgeous meal and taking the beautiful photos. Lamb shanks are a favorite of ours: tender, rich and with a unique, sweet savour. I would eat this meal each night for a week! Have a lovely day… Shanna

    • First, isn’t making fresh pasta fun? It is really so easy and the taste and texture are amazing. Second, OMG this ragù sounds amazing – and topped with gremolata? Even better! Glad your weather is cooling – ours is just heating up!

  19. Goodness me! I feel so hungry reading this…by the way did I tell you, you an expert in doing that (I feel hungry reading your posts:-) I am tempted to bring out my pasta machine from God knows wherever it is hiding at the moment, gathering dust. Another beautiful dish with a great blend of flavours.
    And ‘creative culinary solitude’…I so understand what you mean Laura. Especially since it is rarely a possibility in my case with twin pre-schoolers at home.

    • Definitely give your pasta machine another whirl Sonali! I am so, so glad that I bought one. The finished pasta (despite me being a complete novice!) was so much better than anything in a packet! And yes, I’m making the most of my time alone before Aaron and I have children. I can imagine how difficult it would be to get a second to yourself with little ones around! You do an amazing job xx

  20. Oh dear, this meal looks TO DIE FOR! I love homemade pasta but don’t usually find the time to make it. If I was waiting for a tasty lamb roast to cook though, I’m sure I could find the time!
    Also, thanks for the shout out, and I’m glad you enjoy the mix CD!! :D

    • Yes, this is definitely the kind of meal to cook on a cold day when you’re home… slow cooking, making pasta, watching movies on the couch! And yes, loved the mix CD. You’re a beautiful one! xx

  21. Who would have ever known that onion skins in all their colours and texture could be an artwork! Love love love that photo – the composition and the light are fantastic! You day of creative culinary solitude sounds like heaven and my dream day. It doesn’t get much better than popping on some great tunes, rolling up the sleeves, getting the kitchen dirty and having the sensational aromas waft from the oven of a slow cooked ragu whilst spending the day doing something you love and then even more so enjoying the fruits of your labour with a loved one at the end. xx

    • I agree with everything in this comment Andrea. Ah, I’m kinda doing it again right now… cooking, anyway. Aaron’s watching basketball highlights in the same room but I am attempting to tune it out! Hope that you have a chance to relax, cook and breathe very soon. I do think it’s essential for psychological health… in my opinion anyway! xx

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  24. What is the intended quantity of lamb here? 6 shanks don’t ever equal 1kg – is 1kg the meat yield from the shanks? 6 shanks is closer to 2.5 – 3kg unless they’re very small shanks. Just curious! I have made the recipe and it is delicious, but I can’t remember how much lamb I used and I recommended the recipe to a friend and they questioned it!

    • Thanks for the comment Emily – you are entirely right, it’s an error in the recipe that I didn’t notice before publishing. I do use small shanks (the smallest I can find) and I tend to use 5-6 in this recipe but the weight was a calculation of the approx amount of meat yielded from the shanks, not the bone-in weight. I will amend the recipe right now! Apologies to you and your friend for the confusion, so sorry about that (glad that you found the recipe to be delicious though!) xx

    • I’m so sorry for not replying to your comment here Kerrie! I know we’ve communicated via Facebook now (whew, glad that you managed to reach me) and I’m glad that the shoulder worked beautifully. Thanks for letting me know your results xxx

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