One of the most delicious red sauces for pasta is lamb ragù and since Easter is just around the corner, why shouldn’t we prepare a tasty bowl of smoking pici seasoned with a good sauce?
The recipe for this lamb ragù is from Abruzzo (with love), the home of the best Italian lamb recipes, with all those mountains sheep are in heaven. It is not difficult at all, you’ll just need some patience and first choice ingredients because in the end there are not many ingredients: few but good.
Usually, lamb sauce is not so different from the classic bolognese ragù, just change the meat and the spices, to tone down the strong, and somewhat sweet, lamb flavor, which invites to experiment with juniper, cloves, pepper or even anise.
If you want to add an aromatic herb, thyme is the leading candidate: it’s a pairing old as Methuselah, but that never ceases to amaze our palate.
And finally a note about pasta: we chose pici, a rustic Tuscan pasta made only of flour and water, but when you add a good, hearty lamb sauce it becomes a fabulous first course!
Ingredients for making pici with lamb ragù
For 8 people
- 700 grams of lamb leg
- 1 carrot
- 1 celery
- 1 yellow onion
- 150 ml of tomato sauce
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1/2 teaspoon of cloves
- 4 juniper berries
- 2 glasses of white wine
- 1 sprig of thyme
- salt and pepper
- 1 cup of broth
- 800 grams of pici
- smoked ricotta with juniper
How to make pici with lamb ragù
Let’s start with pici: if you have time, try to make them at home, otherwise, buy them. It’s not difficult, they are super cheap and quick to do, try it at least once!
Ok, let’s move to the lamb: the meat of the leg is perfect for making a perfect ragù, but if you don’t have a meat grinder, let your butcher do the dirty work.
Even if the optimal result is achieved by cutting the meat with a knife to make small cubes of 1 cm side, but, we know, it takes time and patience…
Dice (brunoise) a carrot, onion and celery and stew them in a thick-bottomed pan with 8 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and 2 cloves of garlic for 15 minutes. Cook over low heat, of course.
Add the lamb meat, season with salt and pepper, juniper berries and cloves, saute for 10 minutes, pour the wine, wait until it evaporates, then pour the tomato puree, thyme, parsley, put the lid and cook for 1 hour and 30 minutes.
Remember to stir from time to time and check that the sauce doesn’t become too dry, in which case you can add some broth or warm water.
Cook pici in salted water and drain them al dente, and keep a cooking water cup and just finish cooking the pasta in the lamb sauce, adding some water.
Serve and sprinkle with a handful of smoked ricotta or at best Pecorino Romano cheese.
If you want you can also add a handful of garlic fried breadcrumbs to add a nice, crunchy touch.
Which wine goes best lamb ragù pici?
Let’s uncork a great red wine for the occasion: Praesidium’s Montepulciano d’Abruzzo is the ideal wine, thanks to its innate elegance, structure and cherry charm that recalls the sweet flavor of the lamb.