Lamb Ragu

Lamb is a really special dish for me. I grew up on a farm in Northumberland, a part of my father’s farm is rearing lambs – which graze in the valleys next to the Cheviot Hills. I have childhood memories of working during lambing time in the Easter holiday; I remember always getting told off because we spent too much time feeding the sick lambs or nursing them to sleep, sometimes my father would give in to our endless whining and they were even allowed into the house where they would sleep in a dog bed by the kitchen fire. Growing up on a farm my father taught me the importance of grass-fed livestock and how this affected the quality of the meat, we all know the benefits of organic produce, but do we that of grass fed? Grass-fed animals forage and graze for their own fresh food – unlike grain-fed animals (organic or not) who can spend the majority of their lives cooped up. Grains are high in calories and encourage the animal to grow quickly and this is why it is a system adopted by many farmers, The emphasis of grass-fed is on providing the most natural diet possible (this is why grass-fed animals are strongly recommended on the paleo diet).. Grass-fed animals consequently have less saturated fat, a higher content of Omega-3 fatty acids (a good thing!) and have more Vitamin E and beta-carotene. At Tart we always try to use meat where the animals were raised grass fed, it may be a little more expensive but its worth it, and its easy to find. Ask your butcher and they will point you in the right direction (our local is the Ginger Pig that stocks both lamb and beef from Lucy’s Fathers farm in Northumberland). If buying from a supermarket then read the label, and look out for the ‘pasture for life’ certificate. I have always enjoyed developing lamb recipes and I had this in mind when we came up with the lamb ragu which we served this at our Tart pop-up last year; my mother really enjoyed it when she came to visit and so hopefully you will as well! We serve this ragu with a creamy polenta, which feels truly luxurious, and a basil chimichurri.



    Splash olive oil

    900g lamb neck, chopped into chunks

    1 onion, finally chopped

    4 garlic cloves, finally chopped

    2 springs of rosemary, chopped

    2 springs thyme, chopped

    bunch sage, chopped

    1 tsp crushed chilies

    1 stick of celery, chopped

    1 fennel bulb,  finally chopped

    250g chestnut mushrooms, chopped

    400g tin good quality chopped tomatoes

    250ml white wine

    500ml chicken stock

    1 tbsp red currant jelly






    Basil chimichurri

    Bunch basil

    Bunch parsley

    Bunch of mint (woody stalks removed)

    1 green chilli

    2 clove garlic

    1 shallot

    1 tbsp red wine vinegar

    1 tbsp olive oil

    squeeze of lemon 


1. Heat the olive oil over a high heat in a medium sized, heavy based sauce pan. Add the lamb and sear till all browned, remove from pan and reserve to one side. 2. Turn down the heat to medium and add the onion, garlic, rosemary, thyme, sage, celery, fennel, mushrooms and dried chilli and sauté till soft and starting to caramelize. 3. Return the lamb to the pan, then add the tomatoes, white wine, stock, and jelly, reduce the heat to low and simmer for at least two hours (the longer the better), you can just pop in the oven and leave on a low heat if that’s easier. 4. While the ragu is cooking make the chimichurri, add all ingredients into a food processor and blitz, if you don’t have one then finally chop and combine. 5. When ready to serve, prepare the polenta to the instructions on the packet – we suggest also adding lots of butter and parmesan to make it deliciously luxurious. Serve the polenta in a warmed bowl and spoon the ragu on top, then grate parmesan and drizzle the chimichurri.