Willow Spring Ranch Montana, LLC

Katy & Richard Harjes

8363 Forswall Road
Belgrade, MT 59714



Lamb Ragu with Mint & Ricotta

Adapted from Esquire Magazine


  • ½# bacon, diced small
  • 1 onion, diced small
  • 2 large carrots, scrubbed and chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3# trimmed lamb shoulder, chopped into thin strips
  • 7 oz tomato paste
  • 2 cups dry white wine
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 3 Tbsp fennel seed
  • 1 Tbsp ground cardamom
  • 1 orange, quartered and seeds removed
  • 1 cup roughly chopped mint leaves
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • kosher salt & pepper
  • 1 ½ cups ricotta


In a large heavy bottomed pot (I use a cast iron dutch oven) render bacon with a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil.  Do not let the bacon brown.  When it is translucent add onion, carrots, celery and garlic.  Lower heat and sweat until the vegetables are translucent and soft — do not let the vegetables brown.  Remove from pan and set aside.

Add a bit more olive oil to the same pan and turn up the heat to medium-high.  Add the lamb in small batches and cook until heavily browned.   Repeat the process until all the lamb has been browned.  Return the vegetables and bacon to the pan with the lamb.

Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring frequently, until it turns rust coloured – 3 to 5 minutes.  Add up to ½ cup water and stir to loosen tomato paste being careful not to let it burn.  Add the wine and simmer 5 minutes, scraping the pot with the wooden spoon to loosen any browned bits of meat.  Add the milk, fennel seed, cardamom, orange and 1 Tbsp salt.  Stir to combine and cover the pot.  Continue to barely simmer over extremely low heat (or if your pot is oven proof, put it in the oven at 200F.)   Cook until all the flavours are well blended and meat is tender – about 2-3 hours.  Stir frequently during this time so that the ragu does not stick to the bottom of the pan.  When the ragu has finished cooking, skim off any fat that has collected on the surface and remove the orange sections.  Taste and season with additional salt and pepper as necessary.

Cook pasta (flat pasta like fettucini or tagliatelli are best for holding the sauce) according to directions, but when noodles are about 1 minute from being done, transfer them to sauce to finish cooking.  Add the mint and ½ – 1 cup of the pasta water to thin ragu slightly.  Finish with the butter and toss the noodles with sauce so that they are well coated and salt to taste one last time.  Top each serving with a dollop of ricotta, or even buratta.

Serves 6

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