This rich ragu is a glorious tribute to Tuscany, full of magnificent flavour.
- ¼ cup (60 ml)olive oil
- 900 g (2 lb) lamb shoulder, cut into 1.25 cm (½-inch) cubes
- 115 g (4 oz) pancetta, diced in small cubes
- ½ cup diced shallot
- ½ cup diced celery
- ½ cup diced carrot
- 3 garlic cloves, diced
- 1½ cups (375 ml) red wine
- ¼ cup (60 ml) red wine vinegar
- 1½ tbsp fresh rosemary needles, chopped
- 1½ tbsp fresh thyme leaves, chopped
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tsp (5 ml) ground black pepper
- 6 crushed juniper berries
- 2 800ml (28-oz) cans whole plum tomatoes
- 4½ tbsp (90 ml) tomato paste
- 1 cup (250 ml) beef or veal stock
- 500 g (18 oz) dried pici pasta (see Note), cooked to al dente
- Pecorino Romano cheese, grated, for garnishing
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
1. Heat olive oil in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Sprinkle salt and pepper over lamb cubes. Add lamb to hot oil and cook for 5-7 minutes to brown. Transfer lamb to a plate and set aside.
2. Add pancetta, cook for 3-4 minutes, then add shallot, celery, carrot, and garlic to the hot saucepan. Add red wine and red wine vinegar to deglaze, scraping the brown bits from the bottom of the saucepan. Reduce by half. Add rosemary, thyme, bay leaves, ground black pepper, juniper berries, and cans of whole plum tomatoes with juice, tomato paste, and stock. Lower heat and cover partially. Simmer for 2 hours or until liquid has evaporated by half and lamb is tender and falling apart. Season with salt and ground black pepper.
3. Towards the end of the cooking time, cook the pasta according to packet directions.
4. Serve ragu over pici pasta and top with Pecorino Romano. Buon appetito!
• Pici pasta, which hails from Tuscany, is like a fat spaghetti. It’s traditionally hand-rolled. You can make your own or buy fresh or dried pici from specialist retailers.