No need to deal with crowds and overpriced meals for Valentine’s Day – you can make a restaurant worthy meal at home with minimal work with Braised Lamb Ragu.
Compensation was provided by Gallo Family Vineyards via Sunday Supper, LLC. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author, and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Gallo Family Vineyards.
Do you smell that? Love is in the air or is it chocolate? Either way, it’s pretty hard to ignore the onslaught of red candy in heart shaped boxes and the overall feeling of romance around you. This is not to say I’m one of those Valentine’s Day skeptics, I enjoy the holiday but I like to do it my own way.
I mean after all, it’s the perfect reminder to tell your loved ones that you love them (in case you forget in that busy life of yours), eat a decadent meal and have all the chocolate.
However, all the chocolate can be had after that meal. Does that sound good to you? I hope so because it is absolutely worth the wait once your home starts filling with the incredible aromas of slow braised lamb.
Wait though? Isn’t Valentine’s Day also about treating yourself a bit and not having to slave away in the kitchen, maybe by putting your feet up and having a glass of wine?
Of course it is and I’m getting to that but let me make my valid argument of why cooking at home is better than those stuffy restaurant meals.
For starters – do you want to be jam packed in a restaurant that’s charging too much for a meal that you can get that the very next night that probably tastes better for less? Secondly, how romantic is it to spend an evening with 50 other strangers? Not very is it? After our 3rd Valentine’s Day together we began to realize how silly those evenings out were and that a night home is really the way to go.
This my friends is your perfect Valentine’s Day. It starts by waking up late with a leisurely breakfast, perhaps you’ll find something delicious to make below? Then you move on to prepping your dinner – a slow hands off roast that can be cooked in your oven or slow cooker for the remainder of the day. Since it’s Saturday, let’s have a sip of wine while prepping for this evening’s meal, I believe Gallo Family’s Sweet Red will do the trick – not too full-bodied; the perfect slightly sweet wine to enjoy mid-day.
Now our lamb is braising away and the fun is to begin. Go ice skating, go to the movies, go the beach if you are lucky enough to live some place warm. Whatever you do, do something fun and not part of your normal routine. There’s no worry about dinner or coming home too tired to cook because the magic of braised lamb is in time. Time to sit and become tender and flavorful as it cooks away with the tomatoes, onions, garlic and thyme.
As dinner time approaches light those candles and open the wine for the evening, either finish that Sweet Red from earlier or a glass of Riesling which is a perfect match for the pasta this ragu will be served with.
Lastly finish your evening with that piece of chocolate for a perfect Valentine’s Day!
- 4-5lb boneless leg of lamb, excess fat trimmed
- kosher salt and black pepper
- 2 medium yellow onions, diced
- 2 carrots, diced
- 2 large garlic cloves, minced
- 3 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1- 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
- 1- 28 ounce can whole peeled tomatoes
- 1 cup red wine (such as Gallo Family Vineyards Pinot Noir or Cabernet)
- Pat your lamb dry with paper towels and generously season on all sides with salt and pepper.
- In a dutch oven over medium heat drizzle 1 tablespoon of neutral oil (avocado or grapeseed) and sear the lamb on all sides until it's brown, about 6-7 minutes per side.
- If you are braising the lamb via slower cooker place the onions, garlic and carrots on the bottom of the crock and the browned lamb on top. Cover with both cans of tomatoes, crushing up the whole tomatoes a bit with your hands, the wine, thyme springs and about 2 teaspoons of kosher salt and 1 teaspoon of black pepper.
- Cover and cook the lamb on high for 6 hours or low for 8 or until the lamb is tender and shreds easily.
- If cooking via your oven heat to 325 degrees:
- Remove the lamb from the dutch oven and add your diced onions and carrots. Saute until they soften, about 6-8 minutes and add the garlic, cooking for 30 seconds.
- Place the lamb on top of the vegetables, covering with the tomatoes, wine, thyme and season with salt and pepper.
- Cover the dutch oven and place in your oven to braise for 3 1/2 to 4 hours or until the lamb is tender and easily shreds.
- Before serving for either cooking method, shred the lamb into small pieces
- When ready to serve, boil a pasta of your choice and serve lamb ragu over top.
- Leftover ragu can be stored in the refrigerator for 3-4 days in an airtight container or frozen for up to 3 months.
Of course we only have dinner for your low-key day at home, check out the recipes below for more inspiration or Gallo Family’s Valentine’s Day blog. Also don’t forget to visit Gallo on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube and their website. Plus you’ll need their store locatorto pick up your wine for Valentine’s Day!
Alluring Appetizers and Brunch:
- Burrata and Garlic Tomato Appetizer by Family Foodie
- Shrimp Stuffed Mushrooms by Life Tastes Good
- Strawberry Love Bombs by Peaceful Cooking
Magnificent Main Dishes:
- Braised Lamb Ragu by The Girl In The Little Red Kitchen
- Bruschetta Chicken and Pasta by Casa de Crews
- Mahi Mahi with Roasted Tomatoes and Fennel by The Messy Baker
- Seafood Risotto by Serena Bakes Simply From Scratch
- Thai Sweet Chili Glazed Salmon by The Foodie Army Wife
Dazzling Desserts and Sweets:
- Caramel Apple Pie Bites for Two by Feed Me, Seymour
- Chocolate Coconut Haystacks by Peanut Butter and Peppers
- Chocolate Coeur a la Creme by That Skinny Chick Can Bake
- Chocolate Espresso Creme Brulee by Kudos Kitchen by Renee
- Gluten Free Deep Dish Red Velvet Brownies for Two by Cupcakes & Kale Chips
- Creamy Lemon Tart by Magnolia Days
- Mocha Fudge by Alida’s Kitchen
- Polenta Cake with Honey Yogurt and Peach Preserves by The Wimpy Vegetarian
- Raspberry Custard by Nosh My Way
- Raspberry Meringue Hearts by Desserts Required
- Strawberry Chocolate Mousse Brownie by Flavor Mosaic
- Valentine’s Day Cream Puffs by Ruffles & Truffles
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Now that is a wonderful comforting dish to make for a special someone! It’s like giving them a hug on a plate.
How wonderful to come home to a lovely meal after a fun day. I bet the house smells wonderful too! Perfect! Happy Valentine’s Day, Susan 🙂
I’m with you. I’d much rather stay home to some tasty lamb ragu than fight the crowds on Valentine’s Day. This look amazing, Susan! LOVE it!
I think you are brilliant! Going out on Valentine’s Day is so overrated but who wants to stay inside and cook all day long? This is a great option!
Yum! What a perfect dinner! I love it!
This lamb ragu would make MY Valentine very happy! It sounds magnificent!!!
I love the idea of having something cooking away all day while my husband and I have fun. Perfect for Valentine’s!
I would go to any restaurant you would open! This ragu is so creative-the lamb looks so tender and flavorful!
Valentine’s day dinner in a slow cooker…brilliant! This looks fantastic!
This sounds amazing! Now if only someone would take my kids out so that we could have a quiet dinner at home 🙂
This looks amazing! I love that it is done in a slow cooker!
I am with you! It’s nicer to stay in…some years we go to a nice dinner out the day before or after…some years we’ve gone to hockey games. This year I’m making a nice dinner in and then we’re meeting friends for a party. I like the idea of slow cooking this lamb and then going out together while it does its thing! This looks heavenly!
My slow cooker is my best friend! This sounds amazing and needs to happen asap!
I can’t wait to try this delicious recipe. I know Ron will love it!
You paint a beautiful picture. <3
This looks amazing and a gorgeous pic!
I made this for the first time yesterday, and this was delicious! One question, though: This came out significantly more watery than I would expect from a ragu, and I wasn’t sure if it’s intended that way, or if I did something wrong. Should this be a thick sauce, or should I expect it to be somewhat runny? If I wanted to thicken it, should I just simmer it for a while, or maybe try adding a can of tomato paste?
Hi Joe – Thanks for your feedback and glad you enjoyed the lamb! It’s been so long since I made the recipe, I don’t remember the expect specifics but if I remember correct it was a little watery. Not as thick as what you would expect from a traditional tomato-sauce based ragu. It does and can thicken up a bit when you reheat the leftovers on the stop top just letting it simmer off some of the excess liquid.