Lamb Shank Bolognese

Lamb Shank Bolognese

September 1, 2009 · 24 comments

I spent quality time as a vegetarian. I say quality because living meat-free is invigorating. I felt clear-headed, energized – pointedly opposite of sluggish.

But I couldn’t help feeling I was missing out. Like the awkward teenager mulling home on Saturday night, or the child sent to bed while her parents fraternized with guests downstairs.

Most of all, I craved lamb. Lamb curries, lamb stew, leg of lamb, rack of lamb, lamb gyros, anything with lamb. When I decided to gradually add meat back into my diet, lamb was first on the list.

I eat lamb about once a month, and when I do I’m picky. I choose meat from farmers who treat animals humanely, use sustainable methods and are free of hormones or antibiotics. For me, Prather Ranch was the natural choice for the lamb shanks in my meaty Bolognese.

California gourmands know Prather Ranch as the purveyor of organic meat in San Francisco’s Ferry Building and local farmers’ markets. They pride themselves on strong environmental philosophies and the natural treatment of their animals, which led to them achieving the “certified humane” label.

There’s more to Prather Ranch than quality chops and steaks, and it’s inconspicuous to regular customers. Along with providing sustainable products to Bay Area carnivores, they created a bridge between meat and medicine. Prather supplies cow bones, heart muscles, hides and glands to medical companies who in turn use them for glue, bone screws, collagen and artificial skin.

Prather’s unique farming methods and specific breeds make their cows especially coveted by companies like Regenerated Technologies, who produce implants for spinal and knee surgeries. Other criteria including the lack of meat and bones from the cows’ diet, the absence of pollution and contaminates in the farm’s vicinity and their strict harvest procedures – all allow Prather the opportunity to use or sell almost every part of their cows.

Looks like eating meat can be more rewarding than I thought.

Slow-Cooked Lamb Bolognese

(makes enough sauce for about 2 pounds of fresh pasta)
3 pounds organic lamb shank
1 28oz. can of organic, whole, peeled tomatoes. (I used Muir Glen)

½ can of organic tomato paste
About half a bottle of full-bodied red wine
3 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped carrots
1 cup chopped celery
2 bay leaves
fresh rosemary, chopped
2 pounds of fresh pappardelle
Sea salt, freshly ground pepper
Flour for dusting
Freshly grated parmigiano reggiano
Extra-Virgin olive oil

Marinate the night before:
Put the lamb shanks in a large bowl. Add 1 cup of red wine, 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil, salt, pepper and about 1 tablespoon of chopped rosemary. Toss shanks with your hands to combine. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge overnight. In the morning, flip the shanks to marinate evenly.

Preheat oven to 320F.

Heat up a large cast iron pot and add 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Remove lamb shanks from marinade and lightly dust all sides with flour. On high heat and when oil is hot, brown the lamb on all sides. This should take about 10 minutes.

Remove lamb from the pot, and lower heat to medium. Add onions and cook for two minutes, or until translucent. Add chopped garlic, carrots and celery, and cook for two more minutes. Add 2 tablespoons of wine, stir to combine, and continue cooking for 10 minutes.

Add tomato paste, and stir until melted and covers all the vegetables. Roughly chop the peeled tomatoes (I use my hands) and add to the pot – throw in the tomato juices as well. Season with salt, pepper and bay leaves, and add one cup of red wine. Put the lamb shanks back in the pot and spoon some sauce on top.

Cover the pot and place in the middle of the oven. Cook at 320F for about 4-5 hours.

Remove the pot from the oven. Take the meat off the bones (it should really just fall off) and remove the bones from the sauce. Stir to combine.

Serve with fresh pappardelle. Drizzle on some strong olive oil and top with freshly grated parmigiano reggiano.

Where I Shopped:

Prather Ranch lamb shanks: Temescal farmers’ market
Organic Tomatoes and paste: Monterey Market, Berkeley
Organic onions and carrots: Old Oakland farmers’ market
Fresh pappardelle pasta: The Pasta Shop, Oakland

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{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

Amy September 1, 2009 at 12:39 pm

What a delicious looking dish and great info on Prather Ranch. I knew they were great but I didn’t know the info about selling cow parts to medical companies. Now I, an ex-vegetarian too, can feel even better about eating their meat!


Nicole September 1, 2009 at 12:56 pm

That’s great info on Prather Ranch. I love hearing about people that really take pride in their business and think about its impact on the rest of us. Your Lamb Shank Bolognese looks amazing.


Sophie September 1, 2009 at 1:12 pm

Thanks for your lovely comment on my foodblog! Truly appreciated!

Whenever you are in Brussels, we should meet!
Your version with the lamb shanks in a bolognese sauce looks so tasty!!!
Rich & marvellous!


Gastronomer September 1, 2009 at 2:46 pm

I really appreciate and admire your high standards for meat, Allison! I feel the same way.

On a somewhat related note, will you and Alejandro be attending the Foodbuzz food blogger conference in October? It IS in your backyard. If so, we must meet up.


Allison Arevalo September 1, 2009 at 7:17 pm

We will definitely be at foodbuzz, and it would be great to see you! Let’s get it touch closer to the date.


Jenn AKA The Leftover Queen September 1, 2009 at 5:03 pm

This looks delicious! I haven’t had lamb in several years for the main reason that I cannot find a local source of humanely raised lamb. It has been very sad for me, as lamb is one of my favorite meats…this looks mouthwateringly good!


Angela@spinachtiger September 1, 2009 at 6:29 pm

It’s a huge pot of deliciousness. I appreciate the take on (other) benefits of eating meat. I did s stint as a vegetarian for about two years. I stopped because I missed meat and I was getting an attitude of judgment. I’m glad there are places who raise meat that makes me able to eat it again.


Claudia Hanson September 1, 2009 at 11:32 pm

This recipe looks fantastic. I’ve always felt intimidated with the idea of preparing lamb, as well as cooking with alcohol, such as the red wine called for in this recipe. This dish makes it seem worth the step out of my comfort zone. I can’t wait for the aromas of this meal to fill my home.


Nurit - 1 family. friendly. food. September 2, 2009 at 8:41 am

I felt the same way about eating meat frequently, only I did not know it. Only after cutting back on portions and frequency due to deciding to eat more environmentlaly friendly was that I felt the difference in my body. And a steak sure tastes better after a 1-2 months break and then I buy real good meat like grass-fed.


{kiss my spatula} September 3, 2009 at 4:16 pm

i’m salivating. big time. this is my type of dish!! wonderful!


hungry dog September 4, 2009 at 7:58 am

I had no idea about Prather Ranch, I’ll have to make more of an effort to buy from them. Your bolognese looks delicious! Glad to have stumbled across your blog…I’m a Bay Area girl too. :)


Cindy September 6, 2009 at 10:23 am

This was delicious! A braised and shredded meat bolognese is miles better than a ground meat bolognese, in my opinion. I will definitely make this again–probably as a double-batch, so I can freeze half of it. It’s a bit time-consuming, but not difficult, and totally worth the effort. I doubled the vegetables in the recipe because I had extra on hand, and it worked fine. The finishing grating of parmigiano reggiano and good olive oil was a perfect touch. Thanks for an awesome recipe!


Sophie September 7, 2009 at 12:54 am

Allison, I just gave you an award!!

Why? You can read it @ my latest post!


Aleks Strub March 18, 2010 at 6:46 am

I knew I wanted to make lamb bolognese, but your photo and description sealed the deal.

I made a version of this recipe melded with a few Barbara Lynch staples (added some chicken livers, heavy cream for the true bolognese effect, basil and a few other things…) for a lamb cook-off contest a couple of weeks ago. And guess what, I won! Thanks for the inspiration!


Allison Arevalo March 18, 2010 at 2:22 pm

That’s awesome, congrats!! Sounds well-deserved too, I would love to try your version.


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