This full-flavored, hearty, stew-like sauce is definitely on the Greek side of the Sicilian experience. Easily prepared in 30 minutes or less, it's a welcome addition to our repertoire of after-work autumn recipes.
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 pounds boneless leg of lamb (not lean), cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 small onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 pounds plum tomatoes (about 10 tomatoes), peeled, seeded, and chopped
1/2 cup water
6 sprigs of fresh flat-leaf parsley, leaves stripped from stem
6 sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves stripped from stem
6 sprigs of fresh marjoram, leaves stripped from stem
2 cups shelled fresh peas or a 10-ounce package frozen peas, thawed
freshly grated pecorino Romano as an accompaniment
1. Heat the butter and olive oil over moderately high heat in a deep, 12-inch nonstick skillet with a lid. Add the lamb pieces, in batches, and cook, stirring frequently, for 4 minutes each batch, until all of the pieces are browned. Stir in the onion and garlic, and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 4 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes and water, and simmer, loosely covered, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes. Stir in the herbs, reserving half of the fresh marjoram, and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes.
2. Stir in the peas and cook until the lamb begins to fall apart, about 20 minutes. Taste for seasoning.
3. Toss hot pasta with the sauce. (Add 1/2 cup pasta cooking water if necessary to reach the desired consistency.) Sprinkle with the remaining marjoram and serve immediately with the Pecorino Romano.
The Greeks inhabited Sicily in the ancient world, and this full-flavored, hearty, lamby, stewlike sauce is definitely on the Greek side of the Sicilian experience. Please note: the peas in this sauce do not retain their bright green color (this is not nuova cucina) -- but they do contribute to the sauce's deep flavor and lovely texture. We like it with ziti or rigatoni. Makes enough sauce for 2 pounds dried pasta.