Shepherd’s Pie – with a twist!

I take it in turns with my family to cook dinner or dessert and tonight’s feast with be braised lamb neck cannelloni with a roast tomato sauce.

I am such a fan of meat braised on the bone. The smells, the juiciness and the succulence of the meat falling off the bone is enough to make me swoon.

The plus side of slow cooked meats is that they are relatively cheap. That is until they become fashionable again and your previously $2/kg meats sky rockets to $10/kg…beef cheeks anyone?

Alas I digress. I cheated a little in this recipe as I currently can’t remember where I have put my pasta attachment after bringing it home from work thus I used pre-made lasange sheets. When I find the attachment I will update with a pasta recipe. Nothing beats fresh pasta though these days the store bought varieties are improving.

So, the recipe! This will serve four as an entree or three people as a main with a salad or other yummy side


6-8 lamb necks

1 onion – chopped into chunks (it’s a braise, precision is not required here)

1 carrot – chopped in chunks

2 stalks of celery – chopped into chunks

2-3 tbsp tomato paste

1/2 cup white wine (whatever is opened in the fridge but make sure it’s not too old – bad wine is never a compliment to good cooking)

Chopped hard herbs – oregano, rosemary, thyme

4 cloves of garlic roughly chopped

1 jar of tomato passata (the jars of tomato puree)

salt and pepper



1. Brown the lamb necks in a heavy based pan in a medium – high heat on both sides. Don’t be scared to eave them to brown, this caramelisation imparts a lovely flavour into the cooking liquid.

2, When browned add the wine to the pan with the necks still in, remove necks and add carrot, onion and celery and allow to simmer with 1 cup of water.

3. Add garlic, herbs, seasoning and tomato paste and allow to come to a simmer.

4. Lay necks over bottom of oven proof dish and pour cooking liquor over to cover. Add water as required to cover ingredients  Season to taste but remember it will be cooking for awhile so the liquor will reduce and become saltier in time. For more flavour add herbs and garlic, easy on the salt to begin.

5. Place in oven and cook at 160 degrees for approx 1 1/2 to 2 hours or until the necks easily come off the bone. the necks can also be cooked in a slow cooker according to manufactures instructions.

6.  When the lamb necks are cooked, remove from cooking liquor and strain the sauce. Allow the necks to cool enough to handle before removing meat from bone.

As specified this recipe is best started a day ahead to allow the sauce to sit overnight to allow the fat to come to the top. If you don’t have the time/inclination, not a worry just strain the fat off the top and proceed with the recipe.

7. To finish the sauce, remove the fat from the top and strain the vegetables. Place in a clean pan with the passatta and bring to a simmer. Allow to bubble and reduce, checking the seasoning. It shouldn’t require more salt as the reduction again will intensify the flavour. Allow to simmer to rich saucy consistency.

8. When the lamb neck is cooled and pulled off the bone, cut into even sized pieces as shown in the photo.

9. To assemble cannelloni, if using ready made sheets place on board as shown in picture. Spread a small portion of the meat onto the pasta sheet and spoon some sauce onto the meat to add some moisture to the cooking process.

10. Spoon enough of the sauce into an oven proof dish to cover the bottom. Roll the cannelloni up and place in dish as shown in picture. When all cannelloni are complete, cover with enough sauce to coat evenly and cover dish with alfoil. Place in oven at 175 degrees and back for approx 15-20min until the pasta is cooked.

11. You can sprinkle with cheese before cooking or after as desired. Serve in bowls with extra sauce spooned in the bottom with some crusty bread and a nice green salad on the side. Bon appetit!