Autumn is fast drawing to a close, and it's hard to believe how quickly the year is passing. I love winter; feeling the warmth of the sun on a crisp day, being able to rug up and feel like an eskimo, and cooking hearty, comforting dishes and slow-cooked meats.

Lamb and pearl barley are key winter ingredients, and this ragu does not disappoint. It didn't even disappoint when I used sherry vinegar instead of actual sherry! That's right, my lack of recipe-reading sometimes backfires. I found that ragu rather zingy but we polished it all off! This time (the second time around), I used real sherry and added some radicchio to create a wonderfully balanced, hearty dish. My little herb garden has flourished so well that I was even able to use our home-grown thyme, sage and rosemary. Winter is looking delicious.

Be treated to more! Join stylepot on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Lamb and sherry ragu with pearl barley

What you'll need:
1kg lamb leg, bone removed, trimmed and cut into 6cm chunks (see note)
1 red onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, sliced
1/4 cup rosemary, chopped
1/4 cup thyme, chopped
1/4 cup sage, chopped
375ml dry sherry
1 x 400g can diced tomatoes
2 cups chicken stock
1 cup stock, extra
300g pearl barley
250g radicchio (red-leafed chicory), leaves separated
Crusty bread, to serve
Olive oil
Sea salt and cracked pepper

What to do:
Heat a glug of olive oil in a heavy-based saucepan over high heat. Fry the lamb pieces (including the shank) in batches until browned all over, and transfer to a plate. Fry the onion and garlic until the onion has softened, and then add the chopped herbs and fry for a further 2 minutes.

Add the sherry and bring to the boil. Boil for 3 minutes, and add the tomatoes and 2 cups of stock. Stir, and then return lamb pieces to the pan. Season well with salt and pepper and cover with a lid. Reduce heat to low and allow the ragu to cook for 2 hours.

After 2 hours, add the pearl barley and extra stock and cook for a further 40-50 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes. When the barley has cooked through and the lamb is tender, remove the lamb from the sauce and shred the meat using two forks. (The meat should fall apart and a good way to measure this is to find your shank - when the meat has fallen off the shank bone, it is cooked.) Discard any fat and the shank bone.

Return shredded lamb to the pan, add the radiccio and stir to combine. Season once more if needed, and serve with crusty bread. 

NOTE: If the lamb leg you are using has a shank attached, keep it in tact and on the bone. I like to use this piece because it indicates when the meat has cooked to melt-in-your-mouth perfection.

Along with the other pieces, fry the shank to brown it off and cook for 2 hours in the stock and tomatoes. After the barley has been added and cooked for 40-50minutes, the meat should have fallen from the shank and you should be able to pull out a clean bone. Discard this bone and shred the meat as per the recipe.