Spaghetti with Mutton Ragu – Brooklyn


The Film:

Brooklyn_1Sheet_Mech_7R1.inddThe Dish:

Spaghetti with Mutton Ragu


The Reason:

Many things are more enticing in Brooklyn than the wee Irish town Eilis Lacey (Saoirse Ronan) grew up in. In Brooklyn there is opportunity.  Over yonder there is the prospect of adventure, form-fitting bathing suits, Coney Island, love – and spaghetti. You just have to navigate the tides of homesickness first. It’s a kind of sickness so acute, that at first you want to die (or so we’re told). Though perhaps that ailment isn’t quite as bad as the motion sickness that strikes those who indulge in the mutton stew for dinner on the first night of the Atlantic crossing. This spaghetti is an excellent bridge between two lands. There’s the robust flavour of Irish mutton (or lamb shoulder, if that’s what’s at hand), braised and bathing in a rib sticking sauce of tomato, garlic and fennel seed. It’s enough to make a red blooded young Italian American like Tony Fiorello (Emory Cohen) weak at the knees. And the smell of it cooking is good enough to make any house feel like home.

The Way:

Nb, this sauce also works well with gluten free pasta, chickpea flour pasta, or for a contemporary taste of Brooklyn- courgette ‘zoodles’.


IMG_30052 tbsp olive oil
500 g mutton (or lamb) shoulder, diced
2 red onions, finely diced
4 garlic cloves, finely sliced or minced
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp sea salt flakes
250 g cherry tomatoes (preferably on the vine)
700 ml tomato passata
Dried spaghetti
Parmesan cheese to serve


1) Preheat the oven to 140C/ 285 F. Add the olive oil to the bottom of a heavy based pan and brown the lamb shoulder in batches, until you have a good colour on each side.

IMG_30072) Remove the lamb from the pan with a slotted spoon and set aside in a bowl. Sautee the diced onion, fennel seed and garlic in the remaining fat and oil for 5-7 minutes until the onion has softened.


IMG_3009 3) Pour in the passata, return the meat and any juices and add the cherry tomatoes to the pan. Bring to a simmer and use a metal spoon to help scrape up any flavour that is clinging to the bottom of the pan. Clamp on a lid, or cover tightly with foil and place in the oven for 3-4 hours.

IMG_3010 4) The ragu is cooked when the lamb is forking apart. Remove the stem from the cherry tomatoes and stir the sauce well to integrate the lamb. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed.

IMG_30115) Cook your spaghetti to al dente, then drain and continue the final bit of cooking in the pasta sauce. Serve with parmesan cheese.


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