Here is one of two classic versions of ragù that are prevalent throughout Abruzzo. This one features only lamb, a common ingredient in the mountain cuisine of the region, and is fragrant with the woodsy aroma of herbs.
Portions: Makes about 6 cups-1.4 l
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil or olive oil (not extra virgin)
- 1 1/2 lb/680 g boneless lamb from leg or shoulder, cut into 3 in/7.5 cm pieces
- Kosher or fine sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 2 lb/910 g whole or diced canned tomatoes, with their juice (about 5 cups)
- 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 carrot, peeled and finely chopped
- 1 celery rib, finely chopped
- 1 yellow onion, finely chopped
- 1/2 cup/120 ml dry white wine
- 1 clove garlic, lightly crushed
- 1 flat leaf parsley sprig
- 1 rosemary sprig
- 1 sage sprig
- 1 thyme sprig
Warm the vegetable oil in a Dutch oven or other heavy-bottomed pot placed over medium heat. Sprinkle the pieces of lamb with a little salt and pepper and add them to the pot. Brown the lamb for 3 to 4 minutes, then turn the pieces to brown the other side, another 3 to 4 minutes. Continue to brown the lamb until it is nicely seared all over. Remove the pieces to a deep plate or bowl. Pass the tomatoes through a food mill fitted with the disk with the smallest holes. Discard the solids. Set the milled tomatoes aside. Return the pot to medium heat and add the extra-virgin olive oil. Stir in the carrot, celery, and onion; reduce the heat to medium-low; and sauté the vegetables for 7 to 8 minutes, or until they are shiny and the onion is beginning to soften. Raise the heat to medium-high and pour in the wine. Let it bubble for a minute or so, until some of the liquid has evaporated. Add the garlic and herb sprigs and pour in the tomatoes. When the sauce is bubbling, add the lamb and reduce the heat to medium-low or low to maintain a gentle simmer. Cover partially and let the sauce simmer for about 2½ hours, or until the lamb is fork tender. Add a splash or two of
water if the sauce thickens too much before the meat is done. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper. Remove the meat and the herb sprigs from the sauce. Discard the herbs and let the meat cool for 10 minutes on a cutting board. Chop the meat finely and return it to the sauce. Simmer, uncovered, for an additional 10 minutes before using.
The ragù may be stored in a tightly lidded container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.