Makes 4 servings
Richly endowed with Southern Italian influences, this sauce is rustic, aromatic and satisfying. It also can be made with beef or pork; if that’s your choice, use fresh sage or basil in place of the mint.
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
- 1 each: medium onion, celery stalk, large carrot, finely diced
- 2 ounces pancetta, finely diced
- 1 pound ground lamb
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1/4 cup dry red wine
- 1 can (14 to 15 oz.) Italian cherry tomatoes
- ½ cup whole milk or heavy cream
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- 2 teaspoons minced fresh mint
- ½ cup ricotta cheese, preferably sheep’s milk ricotta
- 1 pound garganalli or penne pasta, cooked according to package
- Heat 2 tablespoons oil in heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add diced onion, celery and carrot; cook until they begin to caramelize at the edges, 12 to 15 minutes. Toss in pancetta and allow to brown for several minutes. Add lamb and garlic; increase to medium-high heat and cook until meat is browned. Add wine and simmer until most of it has cooked away, 3 to 4 minutes.
- Add tomatoes with their liquid, breaking them up in the pan. Heat to simmer. Cook uncovered, until sauce begins to thicken, 15 minutes. Reserve 4 tablespoons of the milk or cream; add the rest to the sauce. Continue to cook until sauce is slightly reduced and thickened, about 15 minutes longer. Add salt, pepper and mint and remove from heat.
- Stir together ricotta and reserved milk or cream until smooth.
- Divide pasta among four bowls; top with sauce. Top each with a large spoonful of the cheese mixture and drizzle with olive oil.