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Luigi's Lamb Ragu



When you own a winery and like to cook, all sorts of great tastes are created in the kitchen. Luigi DiMajo shows off his talents with this old recipe that harks back to the time when the land covered by vines today was the route of shepherd's migrations from the mountains to the Adriatic Sea. A local pasta called Pantacce is Luigi's choice for this sauce, but penne, farfalle, or ziti is an acceptable substitute. Luigi also used a hot pepper relish, bottled at the winery, as an ingredient, but this product isn't exported to the States. Use fresh pepper or a pepper relish of your choice; you could also use ground pepper or crushed pepper flakes. The amount you use will heat up the sauce so you can tailor it to your family's taste. The lamb is removed from the sauce and served as the main course.


1 rack of lamb, cut into generous chops, or pre-cut chops from the butcher

2 cups red onion, coarsely chopped

1 small hot pepper, seeded and finely chopped

1/3 cup Filippo Berio extra-virgin olive oil

3 tablespoons rendered lamb fat, lard, or butter

2 teaspoons salt

1 cup dry red wine, or more to taste

2 bay leaves

4 to 6 large plum tomatoes, peeled, seeded and quartered, or 1 16-ounce can of plum tomatoes


If you plan to use rendered lamb fat, cut enough fat off the chops and sauté in a large pan to get the required amount of liquid fat. Set aside the 3 tablespoons of fat, leaving just a coating of fat in the pan and turn the heat up to high. Brown the lamb chops on both sides. Set the meat aside.

In a Dutch oven or deep frying pan, combine the liquid fat with the olive oil and add the chopped onion and pepper. Add the salt and mix well. Cook the mixture over medium heat for 5 minutes and then add 1/2 cup of the wine. Cook for 5 more minutes or until the vegetables have absorbed just about all of the liquid. Put the lamb chops into the pan, add the rest of the wine and cover the pan; simmer for 1 hour. Check the pan after about 20 minutes; if the mixture looks dry add more wine, some stock, or water.

Remove the cover and add the bay leaves and tomatoes. Simmer until the tomatoes soften, about 10 to 12 minutes. Remove the lamb chops to a platter and keep warm for the next course. Take out the bay leaves and serve the sauce immediately over the pasta of your choice.


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