Roasted Red Pepper Harissa Lamb Ragu
In my last post I mentioned that as a child I wasn’t a fan of stewed beef or large pieces of meat. I got over that pretty quickly although I still don’t eat a tonne of meat. There is one type of meat that I crave and can have anytime and that is ground meat - typically beef or lamb. I love it in meat sauce like this ragu, in burgers or patties or meatballs. Always has and always will be one of my favorite ways to eat meat. Some say it’s the worse type meat you could have but not if you get a good quality cut of meat to grind!
The usual meatsauce I make and also always have a batch frozen and ready for a rainy day or a hectic one, is basic meat sauce with lots of onions and garlic and usually some carrots celery, wine, tomato paste, broth and of course my three favorite spices to add; cinnamon and clove and oregano. They warm up the flavours of the sauce and give a greek twist to classic meat sauce. Those spices work particularly beautifully with beef and lamb.
This is a whole new type of sauce which brings some different and delicious flavours to the table. Harissa is a wonderful paste or sauce that is made with roasted red peppers, a variety of hot peppers, spices and seasoning that give it an intense flavour. I used Mina in this recipe which gives a more subtle heat but a wonderful flavor from the variety of peppers and spices. The recipe calls for the addition of roasted red peppers and I do recommend going through the ordeal of roasting them on the bbq or under the broiler as outlined In the recipe. They don’t require a lot of time to broil and very little time needed to rest tented until cool enough to touch, and the skin literally peels right off easily and this will add so much smokey delicious flavours to your sauce. The jarred or canned ones will not add as much smokiness but will still add the nice roasted red pepper flavour but in a less intense way.
Stewing the sauce for the length of time it calls for makes it a rich sauce packed with lovely aromas and flavours and all of them get married together and are even better the next day if you have leftovers!
There are so many wonderful ways to make a ragu and meat sauce and I do hope you add this delicious one to your recipe collection of them. We were very disappointed to have the last of it the day after and I will definitely make a double batch to freeze or for more leftovers next time I make it! Give it a go and you will know what I mean. This is also another fabulous way to use harissa. Check out my honey harissa glazed carrots and smashed potatoes for more harissa ideas as well as a homemade harissa if you don’t have access to harissa paste near you. Stay tuned to my Instagram through the weekend though because I will be giving away two Mina harissa pepper sauces to one of my North American followers. Be sure to qualify!
- 4 tbsp of olive oil
- 1-1½ lbs of ground lamb
- 1 large onion chopped
- 2 carrots peeled and chopped finely
- 2 stalks celery chopped finely
- 3 cloves of garlic
- ¼ tsp of red chili flakes
- ½ cup of red wine
- 3-4 tbsp of tomato paste
- 1 can of crushed tomatoes or diced
- 2-3 roasted red peppers if roasting or 1 cup worth if your using canned or bottled (roast on the grill or in the oven on broil until blackened and blistered all around, allow to rest in foil for a few minutes to steam and cool and then peel and remove seeds and chop)
- 5 tbsp of Mina harissa sauce
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp of ground clove
- ½ tsp of ground cumin
- 1 thyme stem
- 1 bay leaf
- 3-4 cups of broth or water plus more of needed
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Chopped mint for garnish and grated Parmesan cheese to serve with
- In a Dutch oven or heavy bottom pot over medium-high heat, add the olive oil and then add the onions, carrots, celery and sauté for a few minutes until the veggies start to brown slightly. Season with salt and pepper.
- Then add the chili flakes if using and garlic and sauté for another couple minutes after which you add the ground lamb and cook until it’s brown and mostly cooked though.
- Add the wine and allow to cook until it’s evaporated then add the tomato paste and sauté meat stirring often to coat everything with the paste and cook off some of its bitter taste.
- Add the crushed tomatoes, Mina harissa sauce, spices, thyme and bay leaf, broth or water and stir well.
- Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer, cover and let simmer for 1 hour checking and stirring it occasionally.
- Remove lid after an hour and allow to continue to simmer for another 20-30 minutes or until most of the liquid has cooked off and sauce is nice and thick.
- Pour sauce over your choice of pasta, sprinkle with a little mint and cheese and enjoy.
* This makes a chunkier ragu. If you want to make a creamy more uniform ragu then you can process the veggies including the peppers and onion in a food processor, brown your meat and then add the veggie mixture to it after it browns and sauté and sweat the veggies for a few minutes then add the garlic and chili flakes and sauté for a couple more minutes and proceed with the rest as normal.
Inspired by Serious Eats and Tasting Table