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Lamb neck bones - ragu?

I picked up some "lamb neck bones" at my local grocery yesterday because they were ridiculously cheap and I'd never seen that particular cut at my typically very unexciting butcher counter (even seeing leg of lamb there is a new phenomenon). I was initially thinking I could do a stock, but then I only have a little over a pound and it seems unadventurous.

I Googled for some recipes and came across the idea of doing a ragu/gravy with them, but the recipes I've seen online have been fairly underwhelming. Any thoughts or ideas (or time-tested, beloved preparations!)? I am open to other varieties of preparation, but would prefer to honor my Italian heritage! I only have myself and my husband to serve, so something that will make a 2-person serving is fine.

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  1. My mom used to make these all the time. Absolutely delicious. Use them the way you would osso buco or oxtails or anything similar. Sear then braise.

    1 Reply
    1. re: acgold7

      Thanks - this is what I ended up doing. I was glad for the verification.

    2. You'll get a lot of gelatin from neck bones- if you don't like a slimy (there's probably a politer word) mouth feel, you probably won't like it. Then again, many people do like it.

      2 Replies
      1. re: oldunc

        Do you mean if they are made into stock?

      2. I don't usually do lamb necks Italian-style, but they make terrific one-pot meals: braises in tomato sauce and finished with vegetables or beans. Lamb has an affinity for eggplants, chickpeas and tomatoes so it is easy to steer yourself in an Italian direction.

        1 Reply
        1. re: JungMann

          This is what I did (tomato sauce)...it turned out very well!

        2. I had lamb neckbone chops at the Cinnamon Club in London. they really lent themselves to Indian flavors. Delicious!

          1 Reply
          1. re: mnosyne

            I bet...my knowledge of Indian cooking is sadly limited to a grinder of curry spice. Having now tasted neck meat, I can see why the pairing would work so well...the flavor is very meaty and intense.

          2. I almost always use lamb neck bones for gravy.

            Just sear them to a nice brown in some olive oil, then remove them from the pan.
            Toss a couple of whole garlic cloves (I also add some fresh chopped peperoncino) into the rendered fat and oil in the pan, and saute on a low heat until they just start get golden, but not browned. Remove the garlic from the pot.
            Drop in your crushed tomatoes and browned necks. Season with some salt (sometimes I'll add a little marjorum), and a bunch of torn basil leaves and slowly simmer for hours until they're just about falling off the bone.

            My grandfather used to sit at the table forever sucking on the lamb necks until the bones were white.

            2 Replies
            1. re: Novelli

              This is exactly what I was looking for - thank you. I ended up browning them, removing them, sauteed garlic, onion, and carrot (not particularly necessary, but I had some and they needed using), reduced that with a decent cab, added crushed tomatoes and the necks back in, a couple sprigs of thyme (I had to leave behind my basil plant in a recent move...there was one leaf in the tomatoes, though, of course), stuck it in the oven at 225 for a loooong braise. They did indeed fall right off the bone! The flavor was outstanding. I did end up shredding the meat off the bone and stirring it back into the sauce and serving it with mashed potatoes at my husband's request. I hope I can make this again when winter rolls around. Yum!

              1. re: Orange_Blossom

                I make something similar but I use the crock pot for the long braise.

            2. My local store also had lamb neck last week, and I made this: http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Eggplant... (substituting "lamb neck" for the "lamb shoulder"). Not Italian, sorry..... but it was delicious!

              1 Reply
              1. re: drongo

                Sounds yummy -since we're sharing, this is one of my favorite lamb stews:

                1. I was trying to find lamb shanks for a cassoulet here in Pasadena a few years ago, and it seemed that half the cooks in town had reacted to our cold snap in exactly the same way. Bristol Farms was my last hope, and the guy said, "Last ones went out the door this morning." So on a whim I asked about neck. Well, he had three, which he trimmed and then sawed in halves lengthwise. I think it was $5-something for the lot. Those things made the best dish of lamb and beans I've ever eaten anywhere. Just waiting for it to get cold enough again …

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Will Owen

                    Jaime Oliver has a fabulous lamb neck stew that I found on the COTM thread. I can't seem to find it now, but here is a link to the same stew using shanks. You can interchange neck for shanks for a fraction of the price.

                    It is scrumptous!

                    1. re: dkennedy

                      The night before, I put mine into the pot with soaked beans, onion and tomato, put covered into a 200º oven and went to bed. Next morning my house smelled SOOO good!

                      Right about how cheap they are. Something on the order of $2/lb, these were, and Bristol Farms is NOT a bargain store!

                  2. One of my very favorite winter recipes is a lentil and vegetable stew with lamb necks. I use lentils, carrots, celery, kale, onion, and plenty of garlic. I usually do a quick sear, saute the veggies, add lentils and beef stock and a healthy glug of the red wine I open for the purpose of making this dish (then tragically have to finish) and left it cook low and slow for the day. Serve with a rich and creamy polenta or a hunk of good bread and the rest of the wine. I also tend to add rosemary and thyme but it seems to work well with whatever spices are to your taste.

                    I know you already cooked yours, but perhaps someone else will try this or you'll be inspired to pick up lamb neck again. It's usually cheap meat and this recipes has an unctuous, meaty flavor while still being healthy and satisfying.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: alitria

                      That sounds delicious. I asked at the butcher counter and he said he could order them for me for $2.59/lb. I might take him up on that once it starts to get cold.

                      1. re: Orange_Blossom

                        I find in the winter, I really crave hearty protein heavy dishes, but I'm also trying to eat more vegetables and healthy meals so I love things that give the impression of eating a dish with lots of meat that is really full of a vegetable based protein and plenty of veggies. Ah, the eternal battle between delicious food and the size of my pants....

                        1. re: Orange_Blossom

                          Which butcher counter did you go? Would you please share their address/phone# ?