Spring Lamb Shoulder Ragu

  • ¼ cup plus 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 large carrots, finely chopped 
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped 
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, finely chopped 
  • 150g thickly sliced pancetta, cut into ¼ inch dice 
  • 500g boneless lamb shoulder, cut into ½ inch dice 
  • ¾ cup white wine
  • 1 cup crushed cherry tomatoes 
  • 1 cup chicken stock 
  • In a cheese cloth: 1 bay leaf, 10 black peppercorns, ¼ teaspoon fennel seeds, ½ tsp coriander seeds, 1-star anise
  • 2 tablespoons chopped sage 
  • 2 tablespoons chopped rosemary 
  • Chopped parsley, to taste
  • Plain flour for dusting 
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper 
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste 
  • ½ teaspoon dry chilli flakes (optional)

Ricotta Cavatelli

  • 1kg plain flour, plus extra ¼ cup of flour for dough
  • 550g fresh ricotta
  • 1 large egg
  • ¼ cup milk or water

Spring Lamb Shoulder Ragu

  1. Preheat the oven to 150°C.

  2. Place the olive oil in a large oven-safe pot over medium heat. Once heated, add pancetta and cook until it begins to colour. Cook for 5 minutes until golden brown, remove it from the pot with a slotted spoon and set aside.

  3. Coat the spring lamb shoulder in plain flour and set aside.

  4. Add a tablespoon of olive oil to the pot and allow it to heat up. Sauté the flour coated lamb in batches to avoid stewing. Cook for about 5-6 minutes until browned and remove from the heat

  5. Add a little more olive oil to the pot once you have removed the lamb shoulder and sauté the onion and carrot for 5 minutes, until softened.

  6. Add the capsicums to the onion and carrot and sauté for another 5 minutes.

  7. Add the chopped sage, rosemary, and dry chilli flakes (optional) and cook for another 2 minutes.

  8. Add the tomato paste and cook for 2 minutes.

  9. Add the lamb and white wine to the sautéed vegetables and cook until the liquid has almost evaporated, then add the chicken stock, cheese cloth and pancetta and bring to the boil again.

  10. Place the whole pot in the preheated oven and cook for 1.5 hours.

Ricotta Cavatelli

  1. In an extra-large bowl, combine the plain flour and salt.

  2. In a medium bowl, mix together the fresh ricotta and egg until blended.

  3. Make a well in the center of the flour and pour in the ricotta mixture. Slowly stir the two together to gradually form a rough dough.

  4. Use your hands to knead the dough, adding a few tablespoons of extra flour at a time if the dough is sticky. Continue kneading for a few minutes, until the dough is smooth and stretchy.

  5. Form the dough into a ball and wrap it tightly in plastic to rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.

  6. Cut the dough into 8 smaller pieces and roll each piece into a rope that is a quarter to a half inch wide.

  7. Cut the ropes of dough into even smaller pieces to be about one and a half inches long.

  8. Use a gnocchi rolling board to give the cavatelli ridges by placing a piece of dough on the board, then using your thumb to roll the dough over the ridges, forming a round hollow shape. If you don’t have a gnocchi board, you can use the back of a fork to form the cavatelli.

  9. Let the finished pieces rest for 15 -20 minutes until slightly dried.

  10. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the cavatelli in batches to avoid overcrowding the pot. Poach the cavatelli for 8 to 10 minutes until they bob to the surface.

  11. Drain the water from the cavatelli and mix it with spoonfuls of ragu until it lightly coats the pasta. Sprinkle with parsley and rosemary and toss to coat.

 To Finish

  1. Taste the dish and season with salt and pepper if needed. Serve the cavatelli in warmed bowls.

  2. Grate pecorino over the top and finish with a drizzle of olive oil.

Tip: If you’re not using the cavatelli right away, they can be frozen. Just lay them in a single layer on a plate or baking sheet and place them in the freezer for at least an hour. When completely frozen, the pasta can then be placed in an air-tight container and kept frozen until ready to use.