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Ziti with Lamb and Saffron

This dish, with its ragù of lamb and local saffron, has true Abruzzo flavor.

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  • Servings: 4 TO 6

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  • 1 cup beef or lamb stock or canned low-sodium beef broth
  • 1/2 teaspoon packed saffron threads
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 pound lean boneless lamb shoulder or leg, cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 sage leaf, minced
  • 1 small dried red chile
  • 1 pound ziti
  • Freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese, for serving


  1. In a small saucepan, gently warm the beef stock. Add the saffron and let infuse. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil. Add the lamb, season with salt and pepper and cook over high heat, stirring once, until browned, about 5 minutes total.
  2. Add the onion and garlic to the skillet and cook over low heat until softened but not browned, about 5 minutes. Add the wine and simmer over moderately high heat until almost evaporated. Add the saffron-infused stock, sage and chile, cover and simmer gently for 30 minutes; remove the chile.
  3. Cook the ziti in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until al dente; drain and return to the pot. Add the lamb sauce and toss well. Season with salt and pepper and transfer to a warmed bowl. Serve, passing the cheese separately.
Contributed By Published May 1999

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