Craig Rogers raises beautiful Katahdin and Texel sheep at Border Springs Farm in Patrick County, Va., with the Blue Ridge Mountains as a backdrop. There he likes to serve visitors one of his specialties, lamb puttanesca sauce (with penne pasta). He tops the sauce with fresh goat cheese made by his neighbors, but it doesn’t really need it.
Make Ahead: The sauce improves by mellowing for a day or two and can be frozen for up to 3 months.
- 2 lamb necks (about 3 1/2 pounds) or 4 lamb shanks (yields about 3 1/2 cups pulled meat)
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large yellow onion, cut into small dice (2 cups)
- 3 medium carrots, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch cubes (1 cup)
- 6 large cloves garlic
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 2 tablespoons anchovy paste (may substitute 5 anchovy fillets, drained and coarsely chopped)
- 3/4 cup pitted black Kalamata or cured olives, coarsely chopped
- Leaves from 3 large sprigs marjoram or oregano
- 1 cup dry red wine, such as pinot noir
- 2 cups low-sodium beef broth
- One 28-ounce can whole tomatoes and juice, crushed
- Chopped parsley, for garnish
Season the lamb necks or shanks generously with salt and pepper.
Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat until the oil shimmers. Add the necks or shanks and sear on all sides for a couple of minutes until golden brown. Transfer them to a plate.
Add the onions, carrots, garlic and crushed red pepper flakes to the pot. Reduce the heat to medium and cook for about 6 minutes, stirring a few times, until the onion starts to brown, then add the anchovy paste, olives, marjoram or oregano and the red wine. Cook for 5 to 7 minutes, so most of the wine evaporates, then stir in the broth and tomatoes.
Return the necks or shanks and any accumulated juices to the pot, nestling the lamb in the sauce. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium, cover and cook for 2 to 2 1/2 hours, until the meat comes off the bone easily. (Turn the necks or shanks over after an hour.) Remove from the heat. Transfer the lamb to a large bowl to cool.
Once the necks or shanks are cool enough to handle, pull the meat from the bones, discarding any fat. Separate the meat into bite-size pieces and return it to the sauce. Adjust the seasoning as needed.
Serve over pasta, such as penne, and garnish with chopped parsley.
Adapted from Rogers's recipe, by Sourced columnist David Hagedorn.
Tested by David Hagedorn.
E-mail questions to the Food Section at firstname.lastname@example.org.