Sunday, March 20, 2011

Penne with Lamb Shank & Swiss Brown Mushroom Ragout

In case you can't tell, i'm really getting into mushrooms lately. There' something in them that you cannot substitute, something in the rich umami flavor that has lately stuck in my mind, drawing me to make more mushroom dishes! And this comes from a guy who, in his younger days, could not stand mushrooms. Years of eating only your standard field mushrooms, always reduced down to a ridiculously strong flavor through grilling, or pizza toppings, made me detest the humble mushroom. Since then my palate has grown but i still never use regular mushrooms in cooking, finding their flavor to be a bit too harsh.

And so in comes the swiss brown. Whilst i normally gravitate towards mushrooms suited to Asian cooking, such as enoki, shiitake (my favorite) and oyster, these mushrooms simply aren't well suited to the Italian richness of a ragu. Swiss browns are a close relative to the standard mushroom but with a more earthy flavor. Their texture is also a touch firmer so they stand well to the rigor i put them through in this dish.

Note that in this dish i take the meat off the shank before i cook; this is simply because i forgot to get them cut to fit in my dish! In an ideal world, put the whole shank in the pot. 

Ingredients (Serves 3)

  • 2 large lamb shanks
  • 3 stalks celery, finely chopped
  • 1 leek, finely sliced
  • 1 large carrot, finely chopped
  • 1 handful oregano
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 2 cups passata
  • 6-8 swiss brown mushrooms
  • 1 tsp butter
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 serves penne
  • Parsley to garnish


Preheat oven to 160 degrees. 

Strip the meat from the lamb shanks and give a shank bone to your adoring dog. 


 Heat the oil over the stove in a large casserole over medium heat.

Add the carrots, celery, leek and garlic and sautee for 10 minutes or until softened. 


Add the lamb and brown on all sides.

Add the wine and boil off the alcohol.


Add the passata and oregano then cover and transfer to the oven for 3 hours, stirring occasionally. 


Meanwhile, thinly slice the mushrooms.


Heat the butter in a frying pan over medium heat and add the mushrooms.

Sautee for 15 minutes or until the mushrooms are dark and most of the moisture has been cooked off.

Add to the ragu.

Remove the ragu from the oven and flake up the pieces of lamb into the sauce.

Serve atop the cooked penne and garnish with parsley. 


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