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Lamb Ragù for a Cozy and Delicious Winter Day

Cookbook author Danielle Caminiti shares a hearty and comforting lamb ragu perfect for pasta on a wintery Sunday.

Pasta with a sauce made of lamb and topped with mint

Danielle Caminiti’s richly flavored lamb ragu.

Rich and meaty, slowly braised lamb ragù is the ultimate comfort food, especially as winter sets in and ragù season begins. The deep intense flavor of this hearty dish sets this apart from other classic meat sauces.

Perfectly paired with pappardelle, rigatoni, or gnocchi, along with a full-bodied goblet of Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, this is a perfect way to enjoy a slow meal with family and friends on any given winter Sunday—or any day.

Lamb Ragù

Lamb Ragù

Recipe by Danielle Caminiti
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Prep time


Cooking time






  • 1 pound 1 ground lamb shoulder

  • 1 cup 1 milk or 1 cup half and half (if you would like it richer)

  • 12 ounce can 12 San Marzano whole tomatoes, crushed and cut up with juice OR if you prefer a less “saucy" bolognese you can just use 1 – 6 ounce can of tomato paste instead of the whole tomatoes

  • 1 1/2 pounds 1 1/2 pasta

  • 3 tablespoons 3 extra virgin olive oil plus 1 tablespoon more for tossing the pasta

  • 2 tablespoons 2 butter plus 1 tablespoon for tossing the pasta

  • 2/3 cup 2/3 finely chopped red onion

  • 2/3 cup 2/3 finely chopped celery

  • 1 cup 1 finely chopped carrots

  • 2 large 2 cloves of minced garlic

  • 1/8 teaspoon 1/8 nutmeg

  • 1 1/2 cups 1 1/2 good dry red wine (the kind you would drink)

  • Kosher salt

  • Freshly milled black pepper

  • Pinch chili flakes, plus more for serving

  • 1/4 cup 1/4 grated Pecorino Romano, plus more for serving

  • Fresh mint leaves, torn, optional, for serving

  • 1 1 bay leaf


  • Add the olive oil, butter, and onion to a saucepan or Dutch oven over a medium flame.
  • Cook and stir the onion until translucent and aromatic, then add the celery, carrots and garlic with a pinch of Kosher salt. Cook for about 3-4 minutes, stirring the vegetables to coat them well.
  • Add the lamb meat, a large pinch of Kosher salt and a few grindings of pepper.
  • Crumble the meat with a fork and stir until it is browned.
  • Add milk or half and half, and let it simmer gently, stirring frequently until it has bubbled away.
  • Add nutmeg and bay leaf and stir.
  • Add the wine and let it simmer until evaporated.
  • Add the tomatoes and freshly grated Pecorino Romano and stir thoroughly.
  • When the tomatoes bubble, lower the heat so the sauce simmers on the lowest possible flame. Cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the liquid is reduced until about half, about 1 1/2-2 hours.
  • Scrape any bits up from the bottom of the pan when stirring.
  • While the sauce is cooking, it may begin to dry out and the fat separates from the actual meat so add a little water when necessary, but in the end no water should be left when you serve it.
    Add salt and pepper to taste.
  • Remove bay leaf when ready to serve.
  • Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. When the pasta is cooked al dente, remove and set aside a cup of the pasta water.
  • Drain the pasta.
  • Toss the ragù with the drained pasta, adding an additional tablespoon of butter and 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil and the reserved pasta water, tossing until the butter is melted and fully incorporated, and serve with grated Pecorino Romano, crushed red pepper and fresh torn mint, if desired.

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