While often considered a staple of classic British cuisine, lamb has a rich history in Italy. Lambs, or agnelli, are commonly featured in Christian iconography and traditionally eaten at Pasqua (the first of a two-day Easter celebration in Italy). Furthermore, abbacchio, or milk-fed lamb, has enjoyed prominence in Roman cuisine since ancient times. Primarily eaten in the spring, this festive dish is still prepared as part of Easter celebrations across Lazio. The term ‘abbacchio’ is derived from the root ‘bacchio’, denoting the long pole or staff used for herding livestock.
While lamb is evidently prominent in springtime Italian cuisine, our lamb ragu recipe is highly sought after year-round - and for good reason. The key to cooking the perfect lamb ragu is taking your time. This dish is packed with flavour, too, in part because of the supreme quality of the meat used, but also because of the wonderful aromatics infused during the cooking process. To accentuate the natural, sweet aroma of the meat, we infuse the ragù with a bouquet garni (‘’garnished bouquet’’ in French, denoting a bundle of herbs tied together during cooking) of rosmarino (rosemary), timo (thyme), and - in a nod to the British culinary tradition - un po ‘di menta (a hint of mint). Paired with thick strands of fresh pappardelle, this decadent braised lamb ragu is both fragrant and moreish.
Our lamb ragù pappardelle recipe
Prep time: 90 minutes
Cooking time: 1 - 2 hours
Calories per serving: 792kcal
- 600g fresh pappardelle (for ingredients, see our fresh pappardelle guide)
- 2 x 400 g cans of diced tomato
- 600 g lamb diced into 1 - 2inch pieces
- 500 ml of lamb stock (use chicken stock if you can’t get your hands on lamb)
- 1 small onion, diced
- 1 large carrot, diced
- 1-2 celery stalks, diced
- a generous splash of red wine
- 1 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
- 3 tsp mint, chopped
- 1 clove of garlic, minced
- 2 tsp of sugar
- 1 sprig of rosemary
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 sprigs of thyme
- Salt and black pepper, to taste
- Heat the olive oil in a large skillet on medium-high heat until shimmering then add your lamb and quickly brown the outside
- Remove the lamb and add the onions and cook until soft. Then add the garlic and cook until fragrant.
- Add the carrots, celery, and tomatoes and cook for about 5 minutes. If the mixture starts to get dry, start slowly adding the lamb stock.
- Deglaze the pan with your red wine and then add the lamb stock (if you haven’t already).
- Add the lamb back in, followed by sugar, mint, rosemary, bay leaf, and thyme.
- Cook for 1-2 hours, or until the mixture has thickened and the lamb is very tender.
- In the meantime, prepare your fresh pappardelle, following our simple pappardelle guide, or the below tutorial:
- Taste the sauce and season with salt and black pepper.
- Heat a pot of generously salted water until boiling, before adding your fresh pappardelle. Cook for 2-3 minutes or until al dente. Once cooked, strain the pasta, ensuring to reserve a little bit of the starchy cooking water.
- Transfer your pappardelle to the pan with the sauce and mix well over a low heat. If you need some extra liquid, you can also add a few tablespoons of the cooking water kept aside (this will give your dish a nice glossy finish).
- Plate and garnish with a generous helping of Parmigiano Reggiano. Buon appetito.
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