Slow Braised Lamb Ragu in the Instant Pot

January 18, 2021  •  Meat & Poultry, Pasta & Pizza, Sauces

It happens every time. I decide mid morning I’d really like to make something for dinner, something I’m craving big time like Lamb Ragu on Pappardelle, only to realize that my lamb shoulder, the starting point for the recipe, is still frozen solid. That’s the beauty of the Instant Pot, for me – you can pressure cook the roast frozen to start, then continue to make the braise afterwards. Even if your roast is not frozen, the first step of pressure cooking it just shortens the time it takes and ensures that it’s really completely tender.This recipe makes a very meaty ragu sauce – and if you leave it simmering for too long, like I did (8 hours) it can seem quite dry. So at the end, before serving, I stirred a jar of marinara sauce into the mixture which I found was perfect. Alternatively, you could double the amount of tomatoes for the recipe while it’s cooking to make it a bit saucier.I think meaty ragu sauces like this are best with wide noodles, like pappardelle, or reginelle (sometimes called regenette or malfadine) like I had on hand. The recipe will make enough ragu to portion it up and freeze for enjoying later.

Slow Braised Lamb Ragu
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 8 to 10
  • 1 bone-in lamb shoulder roast (about 3-4 pounds, see Notes)
  • 2 cups red wine
  • 2 cups stock (I used chicken but if you have lamb stock that would be great)
  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • 2-3 fresh bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon peppercorns
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 small white onion, finely diced
  • 1 large carrot, finely diced
  • 1 stalk celery, finely diced
  • Salt and pepper
  • 6 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 4 ounces pancetta, diced small
  • 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes (Italian San Marzano are best)
  • Parmigiano Reggiano rind, optional
  • ¼ cup heavy cream
  1. Place the lamb shoulder in the Instant Pot and add the red wine, stock, onion, bay leaves and peppercorns. Pressure cook on high - 90 minutes if the roast is frozen, 60 minutes if it's thawed. Let the pressure reduce slowly on it's own.
  2. Remove the roast from the cooking liquid and let it cool on a cutting board until you can handle the meat. While it's cooling, strain the cooking liquid, discard solids. Shred the meat and discard and fat and bones.
  3. Add the olive oil to a stockpot or Dutch oven heated over medium high heat. Add the onion, carrot, and celery and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring often, until softened and nicely caramelized, then add the garlic and cook for one more minute.
  4. While the vegetables are cooking, heat a skillet over medium high heat and add the pancetta, cook until much of the fat has rendered, then remove the pancetta with a slotted spoon and add it to the vegetables.
  5. Deglaze the pan with 1 cup of the cooking liquid from the lamb, then add the shredded meat to the pot, along with the crushed tomatoes. If using, add the Parmigiano rind to the ragu. Cover, bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until the meat is very tender and shreds easily with a spoon, at least an hour, adding a little more braising liquid if the ragu appears to dry out while cooking.
  6. Remove the Parmigaino rinds, adjust seasonings, and stir in the cream; cook for 5 minutes, then serve over pasta of your choice.
You can cook your roast frozen or thawed. Note that a lamb shoulder roast has a lot of bone and cartilage so yields much less meat. My 3¼ pound roast yielded just under 1 pound of cooked meat.

I had half of a seeded jalapeño in my fridge that wasn't being used so I threw it in the braising liquid for the pressure cooking step just to add a small amount of heat to the sauce.

If you prefer a "saucier" ragu, double the tomatoes in this recipe or stir in a jar of marinara at the end.


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