It’s difficult to judge the general impression people will have of a recipe with the words ‘lamb neck’ in the title. Neck. It shouldn’t sound appetising. But to me, it does. Brought up on traditional Welsh cawl, lamb neck (or scrag end) evokes memories of simple, warming stew lovingly made by either one of my parents. This recipe for Braised Lamb Neck Ragu, though vastly different in flavour, retains that basic feeling. It’s a joy to consume.
The internet describes scrag end as ‘the inferior end of a neck of mutton’. And while there is a difference as you progress up – or down – the neck, scrag end is anything but inferior. Middle neck is delicious, succulent even, but what it doesn’t have is that high bone to meat ratio.
Naturally, you might not think much of a high bone to meat ratio, but when you’re braising a piece of meat the rich marrow that bone brings is a great advantage. Happily, scrag end is just about the cheapest cut of lamb available. A kilo of the finest quality scrag end shouldn’t cost you much more than £6.
Braised for at least 2 hours, ideally 4, once your lamb neck ragu is ready the meat should be falling off the bone. Succulent doesn’t seem a strong enough word to describe perfectly cooked lamb neck. The sauce, thickened by the marrow, clings willingly to the pasta and flavouring the dish uniformly throughout.
If you’re looking for a real comfort meal as we move into autumn, one that’s frugal to boot, then this braised lamb neck ragu should be firmly on your radar. And don’t be scared to pick out that chunk of scrag end from your local butcher. Regret will not be felt – my thanks, as usual, to Source (Bristol).
Of course, you may prefer your ragu with beef…
Braised Lamb Neck Ragu
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 onions, roughly chopped
- 1 carrot, finely diced
- 1 stick of celery, finely sliced
- 3 cloves of garlic, mashed
- 1kg lamb neck (scrag end)
- 250ml red wine
- 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
- 3 bay leaves
- 1 tsp salt
- 600g tagliatelle/pappardelle
- parmesan to serve
- Preheat the oven to 170C/150C(fan). Using a large pan or deep tray suitable for the oven, sweat the onions, carrot, celery and garlic in the olive oil.
- Add the lamb and colour well all over. Pour over the wine and tomatoes, add the bay leaves and season generously.
- Cover with a lid or layer of foil and cook for at least 2 hours (4 is best). The meat is ready when falling off the bone.
- Once cooked, strip the meat from the bone and mix through the thickened sauce. Return to the oven.
- Meanwhile, bring the pasta to a boil in plenty of well-salted water. Undercook the pasta by a minute or two, drain and mix through the ragu. Serve immediately, with a little parmesan.
Cost: Lamb, red wine… parmesan. Lamb neck ragu doesn’t sound frugal does it? Yet, it is. Choose your wine carefully, for instance, and you can pick up a genuinely enjoyable bottle for just a few pounds.
All ingredients considered, this ragu shouldn’t set you back much more than £9, and will easily serve 6 generously. That fits within my laws of frugal.
20 replies on “Braised Lamb Neck Ragu”
Lamb neck is good and looks wonderful with the noodles! Call it “collier d’agneau” if you want. I’d like a bowl of that 🙂
Way to make it sound even more delicious – thank you, Rosemary.
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Looks delicious – this is the kick I need to start using more unusual cuts of meat. I bet it would be delicious in a lasagna too
Oh yes – absolutely it would.
Looks delicious, Nick; will definitely try this one.
Please do – it’s a truly delicious, frugal recipe.
Sounds absolutely perfect to me!
Thank you 🙂
My mother used to do a lamb neck casserole and as we were always skint, it was the most exciting meat we got! We thought it was an absolute luxury and fell on it with fervour. I will definitely use your recipe, Nick, but will need to search – my local butcher doesn’t stock it – says there’s no demand – what a pity. Thank you for your ongoing posts, I really enjoy them.
It is the best cut… That’s a real shame – can they not procure it? Glad you’re enjoying my recipes.
Stop promoting the lamb neck Nick. They will all want it!
That’s the issue 🙁 – prices low forever!
I’m all for using cheaper cuts – they turn into the most delicious stews. Give me ox cheek over “stewing beef” any day!! And if you don’t have hours of time for the slow cooking, a pressure cooker does it in a cinch 🙂 – although I do prefer to do it slowly…
They do indeed – very versatile. Slow is best and you get fantastic caramelisation.
I agree that the word ‘neck’ doesn’t sound all that appetising, but it does make delicious stews, as does shoulder!
It really does – it’s perhaps my favourite ever cut of meat.
Perfect autumn winter comfort food!
In every way! Thanks 🙂
I stumbled on this site, and decided to give this a go but mind you, I wasn’t gonna buy anything but rather to raid my food cupboard and freezer. So I made this with pork shoulder in place of lamb neck. I removed the skin of course, wanting to reduce the amount of calories. Oh boy was it delicious. It was one of the best pasta dish I have ever made. Tasted heavenly.