Mafalde al ragù di agnello: Italian lamb stew with pasta ribbons

Nothing celebrates the arrival of spring like a good lamb dish. This recipe of pasta ribbons with lamb stew from Southern Italy is traditionally associated with Basilicata and Puglia.
Serves 4
* 500g dried mafalde pasta, or equivalent
* 60g pecorino or parmesan cheese, freshly grated
* salt and pepper, to taste
For the sauce: 
* 60ml olive oil
* 2 onions, peeled and finely sliced
* 1 small hot red chilli, chopped
* 1 carrot, peeled and finely cubed
* 1 celery stalk, finely cubed
* 4 bay leaves
* 1 whole shoulder of lamb, cut into chunks
* 2 fennel pork sausages, cut into chunks
* 200ml strong red wine
* 1kg ripe, fresh tomatoes or the equivalent of canned crushed tomatoes
* 2 tbsp tomato paste
1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan and add the onions. Fry until soft, about eight minutes. Add the chilli, carrot, celery and bay leaves and stir-fry for about five more minutes.

2. Now add the lamb and the sausages, and fry, stirring from time to time, until the meat gets some colour, about five minutes.

3. Add the red wine, bring to the boil and let the alcohol evaporate for about two minutes. Add the tomatoes and the tomato paste and a little water if necessary, cover and leave to cook slowly for one and a half hours, uncovered, stirring from time to time.

4. Add salt and pepper to taste, cook for another 20 minutes, and the sauce is ready. Should you have too much liquid fat swimming on top, take a sheet or two of absorbent kitchen paper, lay flat on top of the fat for a few seconds then discard. That should get rid of a good amount of fat.

5. Cook the pasta in plenty of boiling salted water for 12 minutes or until al dente. Drain the pasta and toss in a little of the sauce.

6. Divide between warmed plates, topping equally with a piece of lamb and a piece of sausage. Sprinkle with pecorino (or, if you prefer, parmesan), and enjoy with a glass of Pugliese red wine.
This would also be good with fusilli or even paccheri instead.  Fennel pork sausages are fantastic with this sauce and are available from most good delicatessens.

More from Antonio Carluccio: Antonio Carluccio's new book, Pasta, is out now (Quadrille, £20). Photography by Laura Edwards


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