Lamb Bolognese


  • Standard Mirepoix
    • About 2.5 cups, small diced, of each: yellow onion, celery, and carrot
  • Olive Oil, enough to coat the bottom of the pan (EVOO)
  • 2 tablespoons garlic, minced
  • 2 cups baby ‘bella mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 32oz cans of crushed San Marzano tomatoes
  • 1 8oz can tomato paste
  • Red wine (the drier the better AKA a Cabernet Sauvignon)
  • Aromatics:
    • 3 bay leaves, whole
    • 2 tablespoons fresh oregano, rough chop
    • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, rough chop
    • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, rough chop
    • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
    • 1 teaspoon tarragon (fresh if you can get it; otherwise, dried)
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil, sliced
  • 2 lamb shanks
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Grana padano cheese, grated, for garnish


What you need:

  • Large dutch oven (oven-safe stock pot will do)
  • Cast iron skillet
  • Blender
  • Oven
  • Food thermometer

How to make:

  • Heat EVOO in dutch oven at medium-high
  • Puree 1 can of crushed tomatoes and set aside
  • Add onions and pinch of salt and pepper
  • Sautee 2 minutes
  • Turn heat down to medium
  • Continue to cook onions an additional 5-6 minutes until golden brown, but not burned
    • If you start to get spots on the pan, deglaze with red wine
  • Add carrots, celery, mushrooms, and pinch of salt and pepper
  • Sautee 3-4 minutes until softened


  • Turn heat up to medium-high, on the higher side
  • Add garlic, stirring constantly for 1 minute or until you can smell the garlic
    • If it starts to brown, turn the heat down (to avoid bitterness)
  • Add tomato paste
  • Sautee, incorporating all ingredients
  • Stir constantly for 6 minutes until combination starts to brown
    • There will be some spots on the pan – This is a good thing! (Means it’s at the correct temperature to get moisture out!)
    • Deglaze with red wine as needed


  • Add 1 can of crushed tomatoes and the 1 can of tomatoes you pureed earlier
  • Stir to incorporate ingredients
  • Add all aromatics at once


  • Stir to incorporate
  • Turn the heat down to a scant simmer (barely simmering)
  • Allow the sauce to simmer for at least 2 hours, and up to 6 hours
    • More than that, with the braising, the sauce will over-reduce
  • In the large cast iron, heat EVOO
  • Set the oven to 325°F
  • Season lamb shanks on all sides, generously, with salt and pepper
  • Sear the lamb shanks evenly on all sides in the cast iron
  • Add the shanks to the sauce
  • Bring the sauce back up to a hard simmer (NOT a boil)
  • Cover the dutch oven with its lid or aluminum foil
  • Place in the oven
  • Braise the lamb shanks until they reach an internal temperature of 150°F (around 45 minutes, depending on the size of the shanks)
    • Braising it to this temperature allows for an easier removal of the meat from the bones
  • Remove shanks from pot
  • Remove meat from bone
  • Shred the meat
  • Return the shredded lamb meat to the sauce


  • Allow to braise in the oven an additional 30-60 minutes, stirring frequently
  • Remove from the oven
  • Add fresh basil
  • Can be served immediately, topped with the Grana Padano

How to enjoy:

  • Chef Alex recommends serving the bolognese tossed in tagliatelle, cooked to no more than al dente (because the sauce will continue to cook the noodles)
    • Top with the Grana Padano, cracked black pepper, more fresh basil, and a drizzle of olive oil


  • Replace it with the sauce in your favorite lasagna recipe
  • Make a grilled cheese on sourdough with bolognese, buffalo mozzarella, parmesan and fresh basil. Serve with tomato soup.
  • Throw it at grandma and laugh with your family…Unless she’s Italian.



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