The main content
Winter-Spiced Meat Sauce with Pasta Ribbons

Winter-Spiced Meat Sauce with Pasta Ribbons


For the sauce:

  • 2 tablespoons EVOO – Extra Virgin Olive Oil

  • 2 tablespoons butter

  • 1 pound ground lamb, ground beef or ground turkey (white and dark meat)

  • Salt and pepper

  • 1 yellow onion, finely chopped

  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped or grated

  • 1 large fresh bay leaf

  • 1 wide strip orange rind

  • 1 small cinnamon stick

  • 4 to 6 (a scant teaspoon) whole juniper berries (optional)

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons (1/2 scant palmful) dried oregano

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons (1/2 scant palmful) fennel seed

  • 1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons red chili pepper flakes (depending on desired level of spice)

  • 2 tablespoons sun-dried tomato paste or tomato paste

  • 1 rounded teaspoon sugar or Acacia (light in color and flavor) honey

  • 1 cup dry Italian white wine, one with a D.O.C.G. label

  • 1 cup chicken stock

  • 1 28-ounce can Italian San Marzano tomatoes

  • A few leaves fresh basil, torn

  • 1 piece/chunk Parmigiano-Reggiano rind plus grated cheese to dress pasta and serve at table

  • 12 to 16 ounces egg tagliatelle, fettuccine or semolina pappardelle


Heat a Dutch oven, cast-iron pot or deep skillet over medium to medium-high heat. Add EVOO, 2 turns of the pan, then melt butter into oil. Add meat and brown, season with salt and pepper. Add onions, garlic, bay, orange rind, cinnamon, juniper (if using), oregano, fennel and red pepper flakes, and partially cover. Cook 5 minutes to soften, stirring occasionally. Add tomato paste, stir 1 minute then add wine and let it absorb almost completely. Add stock and tomatoes, breaking them up with a spoon. Bring to a bubble, reduce heat to a simmer and add a few leaves of torn basil and the cheese rind. Simmer sauce 30 minutes to break down tomatoes, thicken sauce and marry the flavors.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil for pasta. Liberally salt the water and cook pasta a minute or so less than recommendation on package for al dente. Reserve about 1 cup of starchy cooking water then drain pasta and return it to the hot pot. Remove bay leaf, cheese rind and orange peel from the sauce then toss pasta ribbons with starchy cooking water, half the sauce and a handful of cheese.

Serve pasta in shallow bowls topped with additional sauce, passing more cheese at table.