Mark Hix recipe: Lamb ragout with wild garlic and creamed polenta

Serves 4

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This is a great way to use neck of lamb fillet or any trimmings from the leg or shoulder you have. If you don't like polenta, you can use Parmesan mash.

For the lamb ragout

500g neck of lamb, cut into 1cm cubes
1 large onion, peeled, halved, finely chopped
4 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
2 sticks of celery, cut into ½cm dice
A few tbsp of vegetable oil for frying
1tbsp plain flour
1tbsp tomato purée
1tsp chopped thyme or oregano leaves
100ml red wine
750ml hot beef stock

To serve

A handful of wild garlic leaves, washed

Heat the vegetable oil in a large, heavy frying pan. Season the lamb and fry in a couple of batches on a high heat for 3-4 minutes, until nicely coloured; then transfer to a plate or dish.

Meanwhile, gently cook the onion and garlic in a tablespoon of the vegetable oil for 3-4 minutes, without colouring; then stir in the flour and cook on a low heat for a minute.

Stir in the tomato purée and thyme then gradually add the red wine and hot beef stock, stirring constantly to avoid lumps forming. Bring to the boil, add the lamb, season and simmer gently for about 1 hour, or until the meat is tender. Serve with the creamed polenta below.

For the creamed polenta

750ml milk
1 clove of garlic, peeled and crushed
1 bay leaf
Salt and freshly ground white pepper
A pinch of nutmeg
75g quick-cooking polenta
100ml double cream
75g freshly-grated Parmesan

Bring the milk to the boil in a thick-bottomed pan, then add the garlic, bay leaf, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Simmer for 5 minutes, then whisk in all of the polenta.

Cook on a low heat for about 10 minutes, stirring every so often so that it doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan. Add the cream and Parmesan and cook for a further 5 minutes.