My sister and I were discussing how much we both enjoy lamb a while back, and she emailed me this recipe for lamb ragu from Abbruzzi. She had written lots of notes of what she did and didn’t do to her original online recipe she’d discovered, although she can’t remember the source, and as much as I respect my sister’s expertise in the kitchen, I thought I’d also google the recipe.
Not surprisingly, a lamb ragu recipe by Marcella Hazan popped up from this cookbook, which I own, published in 1999. She calls the recipe Lamb Sauce for Pasta, Abruzzi-Style.
There are some differences in the recipes; my sister’s has thyme, red bell peppers and chile peppers. Ms. Hazan’s recipe includes onion, pancetta and Romano. As always, there’s never one recipe for an Italian pasta sauce, so I’ll stick with my sister’s version.
In the cookbook, Marcella Hazan writes: It is said in France that the goat is the cow of the poor; in Italy one might say that the cow of the lower central and southern regions, for both rich and poor, is lamb.
I also realized another major difference. The recipe I’m making below, uses ground lamb. Ms. Hazan uses boneless lamb that is cut into small pieces. Since I’d already purchased ground lamb, I stayed with that, but she states that the cut up lamb provides a deeper, more earthy flavor. A very interesting point.
The only time Amazon has let me down is when I tried to order the pasta called maccheroni alla chitarra, the classic shape for this ragu, and none was available. I am very disappointed!
Abruzzi Pasta Sauce, with Ground Lamb and Rosemary
1/3 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh thyme, finely chopped
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 red bell pepper, cut into 1” chunks
4-5 red chile peppers, sliced crosswise
1 pound of ground lamb
1/2 to 2/3 cups white wine
1 pound can crushed tomatoes
1 bay leaf
Salt and pepper to taste
Heat olive oil on low. Add herbs and garlic to olive oil. Simmer for a few minutes, carefully, just enough to bring out the flavor.
Add chopped red peppers and sauté until soft. Add the chile peppers, and sauté for just a minute. Remove mixture to a bowl and set aside.
Adjust to medium heat. Add ground lamb, break it up with a fork and/or wooden spoon. Cook lamb until pretty much done, then add wine, tomatoes, bay leaf, salt and pepper.
Simmer for 25 minutes. Only partially cover the pan so some of the liquid evaporates. Add the herbed red peppers and chile peppers to the sauce.
Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.
It is recommended to use a large tube pasta, such as Paccheri. I did, but honestly the sauce wasn’t “thin” enough for the tubes. Penne would have been fine!
I really really liked this recipe! Although I know onion would be good, I love the red bell peppers in the sauce.
And the rosemary and thyme are perfect – not too potent.