I’ve partnered with the American Lamb Board to bring you a very comforting December dinner to cozy up with over the weekend: lamb bolognese flavored with lots of herbs and parmesan. It’s a simple, rustic sauce that gets simmered on the stovetop until rich in flavor. I’m tossing it with paccheri pasta and calling it a day. It makes for the best dinner to head into the festive holiday month!
My favorite time every year are the weeks leading up to Christmas. It’s the perfect time to stay inside and simply relax. Most weekends around here involve a whole lot of coziness…and of course, really good food.
With all the holiday cooking and baking going on, I like to have a few simple dinner recipes in my back pocket that are satisfying and delicious, but really easy to make. And that’s exactly why I love this lamb bolognese.
I’m making a very classic bolognese with extra flavor from fresh herbs and finishing it with just a little bit of butter. The secret touch? Using American ground lamb. Cooking with local lamb makes all the difference. The meat tastes really pure and fresh with a beautiful rich flavor. I always make sure to call my butcher a few days before just to make sure they reserve some lamb to grind right before I need to pick it up.
This recipe calls for 2 pounds of ground lamb and makes enough for 6-8 servings (depending how hungry everyone is). I love making a whole batch because it heats up perfectly for leftovers.
I’ve flavored this bolognese with woodsy herbs – thyme, rosemary, and oregano – to pair up with the lamb. A little tomato paste adds richness and white wine adds acidity. The key to the sauce is cooking it low and slow to let all of the flavors develop. Most of the work is done up front, and then you just let the sauce simmer while stirring it occasionally.
Paccheri is the perfect pasta shape for this lamb bolognese because all of the sauce sticks to the inside of the pasta and coats it really. You could honestly use any shape pasta, though!
Toss everything together, top it with parmesan cheese, and you’ve got the absolute best comforting pasta dinner.Print
Lamb Bolognese with Herbs & Parmesan
a simple, cozy lamb bolognese tossed with paccheri pasta, herbs, and parmesan cheese
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 2 stalks celery, chopped
- 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
- olive oil
- 2 lbs ground American lamb
- kosher salt
- ½ cup tomato paste
- 1 ½ cups white wine
- 1 qt chicken stock
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 sprigs thyme
- 2 sprigs rosemary
- 2 sprigs oregano
- 2 lbs dry pasta
- ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
- 4 tbsp butter
- Add the onion, celery, and carrots to food processor. Pulse until finely chopped and set aside.
- Heat a large, heavy-bottom pot (or Dutch oven) over medium heat. Add enough olive oil to coat the bottom. Working with half of the ground lamb at a time, break the meat apart into small chunks as you add it to the oil.
- Let the lamb sear for a few minutes on one side. Season with a good pinch of salt. Then, stir the lamb and allow it to brown on all sides. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the lamb to a plate (you don’t want it to be fully cooked at this point). Repeat with the remaining lamb, again transferring the lamb to the plate once it’s browned.
- Add a little bit more olive oil to the pot, along with the finely chopped vegetable mixture. Season with salt and sauté for about 3 minutes until softened. Stir in the tomato paste and mix well. Allow to cook for another 5 minutes to develop the flavor. Add the lamb back to the pot.
- Pour in the white wine, chicken stock, and whole milk. Mix well to combine. Add the bay leaf, thyme, rosemary, and oregano. Bring the liquid to a simmer. Once simmering, turn the heat all the way low. Allow the bolognese to simmer, uncovered, for about 2 ½ hours, stirring regularly. Season with salt and freshly cracked pepper to taste.
- To serve, drop the pasta into a large pot of boiling, salted water. Cook the dry pasta for about a minute under the package’s instructed cooking time.
- Transfer ½ cup of pasta water out of the pot right before draining the pasta and add it to the bolognese. Stir in the parmesan and butter. Drain the pasta. Add the pasta to the bolognese and toss well to combine. Allow the sauce to continue to thicken as it starts to coat the pasta. Serve with more parmesan sprinkled over top.
The bolognese works really well for leftovers. If you know you want to save some of the sauce (it freezes well, too), just reserve a bit after step 5 and refrigerate until needed. You can reheat the sauce in a saucepan over medium-low on the stovetop and then proceed with steps 6 and 7.
[This post was created in partnership with the American Lamb Board. All opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that I love!]