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Lamb Ragu With Rigatoni

Growing up, and still today, my Christmas feast with my family involves Italian food… always. Big trays of lasagna, or a giant pot of Spaghetti and meatballs, Lately, my mom is really into doing the Feast of the 7 Fishes, an Italian-American celebration of Christmas Eve with meals of fish and other seafood– so we’ve been doing big pots of Cioppino (Seafood Soup), linguine with clams, and all sorts of fun seafood dishes! You get it. We have yummy, pasta filled Christmases. It’s great. And this Lamb Ragu With Rigatoni is a great addition.

Lamb Ragu With Rigatoni Lamb Ragu With Rigatoni

With that in mind, when I think about sharing Christmas recipes with you it’s hard for me not to share all of the pasta, and this Lamb Ragu With Rigatoni here is absolutely fantastic! It’s one of those dishes that is so warm, comforting, and full of delicious flavor. Your family is just going to ooh and ahh over this dish. My kiddos loved it so much that they kept coming back for more, which makes a momma so happy. So if you’re looking for a magical Christmas meal– put this on the menu!

Lamb Ragu With Rigatoni

So Happy Holidays, my friends. I hope your families enjoy this dish as much as mine did!

Lamb Ragu with Rigatoni
Serves 8
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Total Time
2 hr 30 min
Total Time
2 hr 30 min
  1. 3.5 - 4 lb. boneless lamb leg
  2. kosher salt, to taste
  3. black pepper, to taste
  4. 2 tbsp. flour (use arrowroot starch if you are GF or omit)
  5. 3 tbsp. olive oil
  6. 2 cups finely diced onion (1/2 a large onion)
  7. 1.5 cups diced carrots (about 2 carrots)
  8. 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  9. 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
  10. 1/2 cup red wine (use beef broth if keeping whole30)
  11. 2 tbsp. tomato paste
  12. 28 oz can Whole Peeled Tomatoes (preferably San Marzano)
  13. 1 cup beef broth
  14. 1 tsp. dried oregano
  15. 1 box dried rigatoni or pappardelle pasta
  16. freshley chopped flat-leaf parsley, to taste
  17. parmesan cheese, freshly grated
  1. Carve off excess fat from the lamb, the cut into ~3 inch sized chunks. Season generously with salt and pepper. In a bowl, toss the lamb in 2 tbsp. flour until lightly coated evenly.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a large pot or (preferably) a dutch oven. Sear the meat until it is just browned on all sides.
  3. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the browned lamb onto a plate and set aside.
  4. Add the onions, carrots, garlic, and crushed red pepper flakes to the pot. Season with a little salt and pepper and saute until tender, about 5-7 minutes.
  5. Pour in the red wine, and using the back of a wooden spoon scrape up as much of the brown bits in the bottom of the skillet as possible while allowing the red wine to reduce by half, about 2 minutes.
  6. Add the tomato paste and stir while sauteing for 1 more minute.
  7. Add the can of tomatoes, the beef broth and the dried oregano and stir to combine. Using the back of a wooden spoon, press on the whole tomatoes to help them break a part a bit (they will continue to break apart while cooking, too).
  8. Add the browned lamb back into the pot and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and let lightly simmer, covered, for about 2 hours, or until the meat is fall apart tender.
  9. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the meat onto a rimmed cooking sheet to shred (this will ensure you don't lose any good juices and sauce while you shred). Using two forks, mash and shred until the lamb is shredded. Add back into the sauce.
  10. Taste sauce and add salt and pepper, to taste, if needed.
  11. Cook Pasta according to package instructions.
  12. Ladle Ragu over individual bowls of pasta. Garnish with freshly chopped parsley, grated parmesan, and crushed red pepper (if you please!)
  13. ENJOY!
The Defined Dish

Welcome! I’m Alex.

I’m a food lover sharing healthy, simple, delicious, recipes from my kitchen to yours. Here you’ll find lots of Whole30, lots of healthy, and a little indulgence here and there because…it’s all about balance y’all!

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  1. I made this tonight for the second time but changed up a few things at the end. I shredded the lamb per directions, but then I blended the tomatoes, carrots, etc. in the Vitamix until smooth and then added the shredded lamb and blended on the lowest setting for just a bit to incorporate. Since I only had about 2lbs of lamb, this worked out great to spread the meat love throughout the sauce. I love the dish even more now with my little spin with the sauce. Bonus: my husband and 15 mo daughter had second helpings! Thanks Alex for another tasty recipe and congratulations on the second cookbook!

  2. Hi Alex! I am looking to make this recipe and saw your comment about swapping in flank steak instead of lamb, would skirt steak work as well? That is what I have on hand. If so, would your suggestion on how to prepare it be the same as the flank steak? Thank you!

    1. if that is what you have on hand, by all means use it! Yes, I’d prepare it the same, but the cook time will likely be less since skirt steak is typically a little leaner. I would just check on it an hour or so early and see if it’s ready to shred.

    1. Yes, you can!! Brown the meat first and throw in the crockpot. I recommend also doing step 4 and sautéing the veggies first, but its not necessary. Throw everything else in the crockpot and cook on low for 8 hours.

  3. I have a guest who is not a fan of lamb. Could you recommend another type of meat? If so, would you prepare it the same way?

    1. Yes! I did this last week. Do Flank Steak instead (same weight). and, rather than cubing it, cut it into about 8 large chunks of meat, flour, brown, and continue the cooking process just the same. It may take a bit longer to cook until shreddable (like 3-4 hours).