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Lamb Ragu---too much liquid

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I learned a simple recipe for lamb ragu at a cooking class in Italy. Sautee onions, garlic, and rosemary over low heat. Then add finely chopped lamb shoulder. After liguid was evaporated, add white wine and then chopped tomatoes. Then simmer.

It turns out delicious, but when I made this in Italy the lamb did not give off a lot of liquid. The wine was added after the liquid evaporated.

So...why am I getting so much liquid from the lamb? Is the pan not hot enough? Is it because in Italy we used baby lamb shoulder and here all I can find is lamb shoulder?

I also think that the lamb was more tender in the sauce when I made it in Italy. Can anyone suggest how to get this sauce right?

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  1. I don't know why you're using liquid, other than the wine and marinara sauce, at all. And, inasmuch as the marinara sauce is usually not added until the wine and other liquids have reduced by about half or more, your ragu should be just fine. You're not covering it to finish are you? That could cause a problem with too much liquid. If the liquid you refer to is coming from the lamb itself than, IMO, you're cooking the lamb at too low a temperature. You want to brown it, not boil it.
    Perhaps it would help if you posted the recipe.

    6 Replies
    1. re: todao

      Yes,I'm getting too much liquid when cooking the lamb. Does this mean I have to cook the lamb at a higher temp? I'm adding no other liquid other then the wine and chopped tomatoes after cooking the lamb.

      1. re: DaisyM

        I would up the heat and also use a larger pan with lower sides. The low-sided pan will allow more/faster evaporation than a high-sided one, and the added surface area will ensure that the meat browns instead of steams.

        1. re: biondanonima

          Thank you so much! I would not have thought there was a difference from the height of the pan. One more question...do you think increasing the heat and using a lower sided pan will result in lamb that is more tender?

          1. re: DaisyM

            Not sure about that - the tenderness really depends on the animal itself, its age, and the amount of fat/collagen in the cut. How large are the chunks of meat? Are you braising it then shredding, or is this more of a ground meat sauce?

            1. re: biondanonima

              Interesting...because when we cooked it in Italy the meat was "baby lamb shoulder" the only thing I've found here is "lamb shoulder". So, I wonder if that is a difference. The lamb is cut into little chunks. I'd say it is about 1/4 the size of the size of the chunk you'd use for beef stew.

              1. re: DaisyM

                It could definitely have to do with the age of the lamb. If the cut you're using is fatty/collagen-y enough, you could just increase the cooking time a bit (and do it over low heat once the liquid is added) - that might help break down the tougher bits a little better.

    2. Are you adding the lamb shoulder raw or pre-cooked? Are you using a shallow skillet or a high-sided pan to cook it?

      1. Was your lamb once frozen? That can certainly add liquid.

        1 Reply
        1. re: escondido123

          I'm getting the lamb shoulder at Whole Foods and the packaging has not noted it was previously frozen. I will ask next time.

        2. I've had that issue with pork roasts lately. Do you know if your shoulder was "injected" with some sort of brine solution?