Offal, the dirty word. It wasn’t that long ago that heart, tongue and liver formed a large part of our parents/grandparents diet but today we seem to see ourselves as being above such frugal eating. My granddad always speaks fondly of his dinners as a child, big pots of stew simmering for days over the fire with any cut of meat imaginable inside. To be fair though he also speaks in horror of the “liver and lights” (liver and lungs) he was fed as a jockey on The Curragh. In these days of fillet steaks, which were once only deemed fit for the sick, and expensive cuts it’s rare to taste the robust flavours of a slow cooked lambs heart or beef tongue, even the heal-all ox tail soup/stew doesn’t rear it’s glorious head too often anymore.
Luckily I have a great butcher. Nolan’s of Kilcullen slaughter their own animals and usually have any cut of the animal you could possibly wish for. Wednesday is lamb day. Hearts, kidneys and liver line the counter with the most tempting of price tags attached. It was Wednesday, I was in luck. This ragu is big on flavour and low on effort. Don’t worry if you have some squeamish eaters present, the meat is all pulled apart before serving so these can be kept in the dark. The flavours will develop further over a day or two so don’t throw away the leftovers, just keep the animals away, if yours are anything like mine they’ll turn feral when the offal is released!
4 tbsp Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
1 Onion (finely chopped)
1 Carrot (finely chopped)
1 stick of Celery (finely chopped)
1 Ox Tail (bone in, chopped)
2 Lamb Hearts (cut into quarters and washed of any dried blood)
150g Lambs Liver (cubed)
glass of Red Wine (Chianti is preferable)
1.4Kg of Rustic Tomato Passata
1 Bay Leaf
1 tsp Dried Oregano
Sea Salt and Freshly Ground Pepper
1. Heat the oil over a medium heat and add the onion, carrot and celery. Season well and cook for 7-10 minutes until soft but not coloured.
2. Add the tail and brown on all sides before adding the quartered hearts and liver. Cook for 5 minutes before adding the wine and continue to cook for 5 minutes until the alcohol has evaporated.
3. Add the passata, bay leaf and oregano. Season well, bring to the boil, cover and simmer for 4 hours, removing the lid for the last hour to thicken the sauce.
4. Remove the meat from the pan with a slotted spoon or tongs and rip the meat apart and off the bone with two forks. Add back to the sauce and stir well. Check the seasoning and serve with penne or tagliatelle.