Lamb Ragu Bucatini


The spices in this lamb ragu are the secret to making a rich pasta sauce in just an hour.

Lamb Ragu Bucatini
Photo: Photo by Jennifer Causey / Food Styling by Margret Monroe Dickey / Prop Styling by Christina Daley
Prep Time:
1 hrs
Total Time:
1 hrs

The ground coriander and Espelette pepper in this ragu add a depth of flavor that typically takes hours to develop. They also add a funky, citrusy flavor that is enhanced by the brightness of the lemon zest topping and the tangy kalamata olives. Every single bite you take is bursting with flavor, making it important to pair bucatini or another sturdy pasta with this sauce. Reserving the pasta water and quickly stirring it into the sauce with the pasta helps the sauce adhere to the noodles.


  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

  • 1 medium-size (10-ounce) yellow onion, chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)

  • 5 garlic cloves, crushed (about 3 tablespoons)

  • 1 pound ground lamb

  • 1 cup dry red wine

  • 1 cup chicken stock

  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can whole tomatoes, undrained

  • ¼ cup finely chopped fresh oregano or 3 tablespoons dried oregano

  • 3 tablespoons ground coriander 

  • 2 dried bay leaves

  • 4 teaspoons ground Espelette pepper, divided, plus more to taste

  • Kosher salt, to taste

  • 1 pound fresh, uncooked bucatini pasta

  • 1 ounce pecorino Romano cheese, grated (about 1/4 cup)

  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest (from 2 lemons)

  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano

  • 12 pitted kalamata olives (about 1/4 cup)


  1. Melt butter in a large high-sided skillet over medium; add onion, and cook, stirring often, until softened but translucent, about 6 minutes. Add garlic, and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add lamb, and cook, stirring often and breaking up meat using a wooden spoon, until lightly browned, 6 to 8 minutes. Add wine; reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer until reduced by half, 6 to 8 minutes. Add stock, and simmer until reduced by half, 6 to 8 minutes. Add tomatoes with juices, breaking up loosely using a wooden spoon; stir in fresh oregano, coriander, bay leaves, and 2 teaspoons of the Espelette pepper.

  2. Reduce heat in skillet to medium-low; simmer until sauce thickens and becomes bubbly, about 20 minutes, stirring every few minutes to prevent burning. Add salt and additional Espelette pepper to taste. Remove and discard bay leaves.

  3. While sauce simmers, bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil over medium-high. Add pasta, and cook according to package directions until al dente. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup cooking water; set aside until ready to use.

  4. Stir together cheese, lemon zest, and dried oregano in a small bowl. Set aside.

  5. Add cooked pasta, olives, reserved 1/2 cup cooking water, and remaining 2 teaspoons Espelette pepper to sauce in skillet, stirring constantly until sauce coats pasta. Divide evenly among 4 bowls, and top evenly with reserved cheese mixture.

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