An old Italian proverb says, ‘When the tummy is full the heart is happy’. This Italian Lamb Sugo will surely fill your heart with happiness as it fills your tummy. Our version of Lamb Sugo is made with lamb chunks, onions, garlic, fresh tomatoes, beef broth and red wine. The addition of cocoa nibs and a short cinnamon stick give this sauce a magical depth of richness.
What is ‘Lamb Sugo’?
Sugo is another one of those great Italian red sauce creations that match up so well with pasta. The Italian translation for ‘sugo’ is ‘juicy’, ’sauce’ or ‘gravy’. Sugo is a variant of the Bolognese ragù and marinara sauce and it is prepared differently throughout the regions of Italy.
Ground lamb or lamb chunks can be used in making lamb sugo. Our version uses lean chunks of lamb shoulder that is browned in a skillet. Similar to a Bolognese ragù we added onion, garlic, tomato paste, red wine, tomatoes and herbs. We also included cocoa nibs and a little cinnamon, both of which lend an incredible depth of flavor to the finished sauce. The mixture is braised long and slow in the oven where all the magic happens to the flavor of the sauce.
Bolognese ragù originated in Bologna sometime in the 18th century. It is usually prepared with ground beef, pancetta, sautéed aromatic vegetables of onions, garlic, carrots, celery, tomatoes and wine. It is slow-cooked to achieve that thick, intense, flavor and served with a flat pasta such as tagliatelle or fettuccine.
Marinara sauce originated in Naples, Italy. It is a quick-cooking sauce of fewer ingredients that include onions, garlic, herbs and a lot of tomatoes. Oh, but how we love this sauce with big, juicy meatballs swimming in it and poured over a heaping pile of spaghetti strands or bucatini pasta.
Are Cocoa Nibs Pieces of Chocolate?
Cocoa nibs are little bits of the hulled cocoa bean. They are crunchy and have a little bitterness to them. They are primarily used in making chocolate and unsweetened cocoa powder. But happily, they are also included in savory dishes.
When cocoa nibs are used in savory dishes it is intended to enhance and balance out the flavors and will not taste ‘chocolaty’ at all. In fact, if you taste the cocoa nib flavor you will have over-done it. Using a warm spice like cinnamon or nutmeg with the cocoa nibs in savory sauces compliment each other in the balancing act and lends an incredible depth of flavor to the sauce.
Cooking the Lamb Sugo:
The lamb sugo simmers in a low temp oven for over two hours, it becomes thick and develops a rich mellow flavor, enhanced with the cocoa nibs and cinnamon. Then, after the cooking process is complete the sauce is finished with fresh heirloom cherry tomatoes and herbs.
This lamb sugo is a wonderful feast when tossed with a flat pasta such as tagliatelle or fettuccine. All you need is someone to share it with, a crisp green salad, crusty bread and a good bottle of red wine. Yum!
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Preheat the oven to 250°F To Make the Sugo:
Serving Size 1
Amount Per ServingCalories 434 Total Fat 12g Saturated Fat 3g Trans Fat 0g Unsaturated Fat 7g Cholesterol 96mg Sodium 594mg Carbohydrates 38g Fiber 4g Sugar 5g Protein 37g
Preheat the oven to 250°F
To Make the Sugo: