Lamb ragu with orecchiette pasta

by Paula McIntyre

Quick braise lamb for a tasty weekend supper


For the orecchiette pasta:
250g durum wheat semolina flour
150ml water, room temperature

For the lamb ragu:
2 tbsp olive oil
500g boneless leg of lamb, finely diced
2 stalks celery, cut into ½ cm dice
1 carrot, cut into ½ cm dice
1 onion, peeled and diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp fennel seeds, slightly crushed
1 bay leaf
1 tbsp tomato puree
200ml red wine
250ml passata
500ml lamb or beef stock
A handful of flat leaf parsley, chopped
A few sprigs of fresh oregano
Extra virgin oil, for drizzling


Place the flour in a pile in the middle of a wooden board. Make a well in the centre. Mix a pinch of salt into the water and then add gradually to the well, mixing in to make a dough. Knead for about 10 mins or until elastic, wrap in cling film and chill for 20 mins.

Take a piece of the dough and roll into a cylinder about 1cm thick. Cut pieces about 1cm long. Press between your index finger and thumb to make a disc. Keep your thumb in the middle of the disc and roll down a fork or gnocchi roller to make an indent. The finished pasta should look like a little ear.

Repeat with the remaining dough and place on a floured surface to dry for 20 mins.

To make the ragu, heat 1 tbsp the oil in a large saucepan or frying pan until smoking hot and add the diced lamb. Season with salt and seal all over.

Add the remaining oil with the celery, carrot, onion and garlic and lower the heat. Cook for 10 mins, or until the vegetables are soft. Add the fennel seeds and bay leaf with the tomato puree and cook for 1 min. Add the wine and simmer for 1 min. Add the passata and stock and simmer for about 20 mins. Check the seasoning.  

Plunge the orecchiette into boiling salted water and cook for about 6 mins. Drain and toss into the ragu—add a little cooking water if necessary—along with the parsley. Spoon into bowls, garnish with a drizzle of olive oil and some sprigs of oregano.

Recipe: Paula McIntyre