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Playing Lamb Ragu


  • 2 tablespoons EVOO – Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 1/2 to 2 pounds lamb stew meat (lamb shoulder), cubed
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 carrot, finely chopped or grated
  • 1 rib celery and leafy tops, finely chopped
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 small dry or fresh red chili finely chopped or 1 teaspoon dried chili flakes
  • 1 large bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon dried marjoram or oregano
  • 1 sprig rosemary, finely chopped
  • 5 to 6 sage leaves, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 2 cups lamb or chicken stock
  • 1 28-ounce can San Marzano tomatoes and juice, crushed by hand
  • 1 3- to 4-inch curl orange or lemon rind
  • 12 large Brussels sprouts
  • 1 pound whole wheat pappardelle, fettuccine, buckwheat pasta or rigatoni
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup mint, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • Grated Pecorino cheese


Serves: 6


Heat a Dutch oven over medium-high to high heat with olive oil, 2 turns of the pan.  Pat the meat dry and brown in small batches; season with salt and pepper. Remove from pot and reserve. To the drippings, add carrot, celery, onion, garlic, chili, bay, marjoram or oregano, rosemary and sage, and season with salt and pepper. Cook to soften, 5-7 minutes, partially covered. Add wine and reduce to 1/4 cup. Add stock and lamb, and cover pan. Braise meat over low heat or in 300°F oven for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, until tender.

Shred the meat with tines of forks. Add tomatoes and citrus rind and partially cover, simmer over low heat for 30 minutes more. Remove citrus rind.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil for pasta. Trim Brussels spouts and separate leaves, salt water and boil sprouts 2-3 minutes then remove with a strainer or spider and cold shock in ice bath. Add pasta to salted water and cook to al dente. Reserve about half a mug full of starchy cooking water, drain pasta. 
Toss the pasta with the sauce, Brussels leaves and starchy water to combine; adjust seasoning to taste. Serve in a shallow bowl and top with mint, parsley and cheese.