- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/4 pound ground lamb
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 2 medium shallots, very finely chopped
- 1/2 small onion, finely chopped
- 2 thyme sprigs, plus 1 teaspoon chopped thyme
- 1 rosemary sprig, plus 1 teaspoon chopped rosemary
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 cup dry red wine
- 1/2 cup chicken stock
- 2 cups prepared tomato sauce
- 2 tablespoons chopped basil
- 8 lamb rib chops, about 1/2 inch thick
- 1 pound malloreddus pasta (see Note), gnochetti or cavatelli
- 1/2 cup freshly grated pecorino cheese (11/2 ounces), preferably Pecorino Sardo
- In a medium saucepan, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Add the ground lamb, season with salt and pepper and cook over moderately high heat, stirring to break up the meat, until browned, about 4 minutes. Add the shallots, thyme and rosemary sprigs, bay leaf and the chopped onion and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until the shallots and onion are softened, about 4 minutes. Add the red wine and boil over high heat until reduced by three-quarters, about 4 minutes. Add the chicken stock and tomato sauce and simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 20 minutes. Stir in the basil and season with salt and pepper. Discard the thyme and rosemary sprigs and the bay leaf and keep the sauce hot.
- In a large skillet, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil until shimmering. Season the lamb chops with salt and pepper and pat the chopped thyme and rosemary onto the meat. Add the chops to the skillet and cook over moderately high heat until well browned outside and medium-rare within, about 3 minutes per side.
- Meanwhile, in a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook the malloreddus pasta until al dente. Drain and return it to the pot. Add the lamb ragù and stir well. Add the pecorino and stir again. Transfer the pasta to plates and top with the lamb chops. Serve right away.
The lamb ragù can be covered and refrigerated for up to 3 days. Rewarm before serving.
Malloreddus is a small Sardinian ridged pasta that is often flavored with saffron; it can be white, bright yellow or tricolored. It's available at many specialty food stores.
The Cannonau variety (known outside Sardinia as Grenache) is a classic local match for lambits spicy, cherry-and-plum notes pair well with the meat's gamey depth of flavor. For this impressive chop-and-pasta main course, search out a substantial bottling.