Sugo di agnello – lamb sauce

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Amy Gulick shares her Sugo di agnello recipe, a wonderfully versatile lamb sauce that can be served with pasta, polenta or grilled bread. Perfect for a quick after work meal, it can be prepared in just 30 minutes.

First published in 2016

Italians prepare lamb in countless ways, with speciality recipes varying from region to region. In Romagna, for instance, battered and fried lamb ribs are popular. Southern regions like Puglia favour a version of lamb alla cacciatora, made with tomato, potato and herbs, while lamb noisettes with citrus fruit and greens are a famous dish in Sicily. Sardinian lamb, which obtained Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) status in 2001, is often braised and cooked with local wild fennel greens and white wine. And throughout Lazio, where the unweaned lamb goes by the name abbacchio, recipes range from roasts to fricassees and rich stews, most notably among them abbacchio alla romana, mildly piquant with its sauce of herbs, garlic, red chilli, and anchovy.

The tender, savoury sauce featured here is made from lamb shoulder, the cut commonly used in recipes that call for mincing the meat, such as grilled skewers, meatballs, and stews. Served alongside polenta or with pasta, it’s a lovely alternative to traditional meat ragù, with a much shorter cooking time. It also goes well with grilled bread.




Lamb sauce

  • 500g of lamb shoulder, deboned
  • 2 shallots, finely chopped
  • 4 tbsp of red wine
  • 125ml of tomato purée
  • 1 tbsp of tomato paste
  • 1 bay leaf

To garnish

  • 4 tbsp of chopped parsley
  • 4 tbsp of Parmesan, finely grated


To begin, cut the lamb into small pieces, no larger than 1cm, or roughly the size of a small hazelnut. Trim away some of the fat as you go. Set aside
Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat, add the shallots and cook until soft. Pour in the wine, stir, and reduce for a few minutes
When most of the wine has cooked off, add the lamb. Brown the pieces evenly for about 2 minutes, then season with salt and pepper to taste
Add the tomato purée, tomato paste and bay leaf. Stir until all the ingredients are fully combined, then cover and simmer on a low heat for 7–10 minutes. When ready, top with the fresh parsley and grated cheese
Serve over warm polenta with grilled bread, or as a pasta sauce
First published in 2016

Amy Gulick is a freelance writer and translator from California who lived in Tuscany for over twenty years.

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