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Aug 15, 2011 10:02 AM

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.

        2 Replies
        1. re: JungMann

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

          1. re: JungMann

            Could you point to a recipe or approach? I just got one neck and had it cut lengthwise vertically and then into three chunks, each side, for six total. Was thinking of making a spaghetti or other pasta red sauce of it.

            I get a lamb neck every Summer when the show lambs are slaughtered after the County 4-H Fair. So far I've tried it once as a whole roast and another time cross-cut into beef-shank-like rounds.

            Open to other ideas, too.

          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 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.

              4 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. re: Novelli

                  This a "gravy" in the Northeast USA Italian-American sense? I've noticed with some of those recipes, they add in sausages and maybe more besides.

                  1. re: Bada Bing

                    Sure, you can add in sausages, pork ribs, meatballs, rolled cotenne (my favorite). Treat them the same way as the lamb. The more you add, the more complex the flavor becomes.