Inauguration Lamb Ragu

I wanted to make something special for Inauguration Day. It’s been a long eight years, and today is a day worthy of a true celebration! The ceremony this morning was so inspiring – not just Obama’s excellent speech, but the sheer numbers of people who came, smiling and full of hope, to be present for this historical moment in our country. As a Chicagoan, I’m especially proud to be sharing Obama with with world now. We are no longer the Second City. We’re the home of the First Family.

And to celebrate on this long-awaited day, I share with you this long-simmered dish that I love. There’s something distinctly primal about lamb shanks – tearing the tender meat from the bone, moist with the sauce it’s been simmered in. However, I don’t always enjoy taking the meat from the bone at the table. It can be messy, difficult, and a little un-romantic for such a carefully crafted meal. So, I prefer to take the meat off the bone before serving, which also allows me to remove more of the fat from the meat, as well. I served this with roasted potatoes, but I think next time I’d serve it over mashed potatoes or pasta.

And now, let’s all take a deep, cleansing breath, and look with hope to the next four years of the Obama administration.

Lamb Ragu
Serves 3-4
7 Weight Watchers points per serving (assuming all fat skimmed/removed)
4 WW points per 1 cup roasted veggies

1 T vegetable oil
2 Lamb Shanks (about 1 1/2lbs)
1 T olive oil
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 c red wine
3 1/2 c chicken stock
1 can fire roasted tomatoes (Muir Glen)
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
2 bay leaves
1 tsp fresh thyme
salt & pepper to taste
splash of red wine vinegar

Serve with: plain rice, roasted potatoes, mashed potatoes, pasta

  1. Heat the vegetable oil in a large pan, over medium-high heat. When oil is shimmering, add lamb shanks and brown well on all sides, about 3 min per side. Set aside.
  2. Heat a 3qt heavy pot or dutch oven over medium heat. Add 1 T olive oil, garlic and onion and saute for 3-4 minutes, until onions are translucent and beginning to soften.
  3. Add lamb shanks to onions & garlic. Pour wine into pot, and increase heat to high and bring to a boil. Cook for about 5 minutes, until the wine reduces a bit.
  4. Add the chicken stock, tomatoes, rosemary, bay leaves and thyme to the pot. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat so that the pot is simmering gently, and partially cover. Cook for 90 minutes, stirring occasionally, and spooning off the fat as you go. When the shanks are tender, and beginning to fall off the bone, remove them and set aside to cool.
  5. Increase heat on the pot to medium, bring the sauce to a boil, and reduce the sauce until it begins to thicken. Adjust the seasoning as needed.
  6. Take shanks, and remove meat from the bones, carefully removing bits of fat and cartiledge. Return lamb to pot, simmer for another 5 minutes, then add a dash of red wine vinegar and remove from heat. Serve immediately, or the next day – much like stew, the flavors are even better a day later.

4 thoughts on “Inauguration Lamb Ragu

  1. So I might have told you this before but I have never had lamb before. This past weekend I thought about trying lamb tagine. Do you think what you made tonight would be a good first run recipe at lamb? Or should I start with something easier?

  2. @Emily – I’d go to the market and see what’s cheaper – shanks or stew meat, and make the decision from there – there’s nothing really difficult about Ragu or Stew…let me know if you need some stew pointers – my fave is with tomatoes, rosemary and some of those gorgeous Rancho Gordo white beans! Thanks Sara!

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