A few years ago, I visited my good friend Dana in Philadelphia. Dana and I have been friends ever since a traumatic field trip to the local arboretum in first grade. She comes from a long line of proud Italian home chefs and her family taught me well. It was at her household that I first rolled out my own pasta dough, and it was on this trip to Philadelphia, that she first taught me to make a true Italian bolognese. We headed to Reading Market, picked up great produce and good meat, and then slowly simmered a fabulous sauce in her tiny uPenn apartment.

A few weeks ago, I had some ground lamb and sausages on hand and knew I needed to return to her recipe. Yes, I would be replacing pork and beef with lamb, but hopefully the rest is true to the original.

  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 package hot Italian sausage, casings removed
  • 1 lb ground lamb
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 2 ribs of celery, diced
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup chopped parsley
  • 1 28 oz can of whole plum tomatoes
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 1 bay leaf
  • salt and pepper

Heat large saucepan with olive oil. Add sausage and brown, splitting up sausages with your spoon as it cooks. Remove and let drain on paper towel. Brown ground lamb, remove and let drain on a paper towel. Add onion and garlic to the saucepan and cook for several minutes. Add carrots and celery, and heat another 3 minutes. Add tomato paste and stir to incorporate. Return meat to the pan along with tomatoes, breaking them up as you stir them.

Add wine and bay leaf. Let simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve with pasta or polenta.

If you can manage it, make this a day ahead of time, as the flavor dramatically improves. This simple, yet extremely flavorful dish will definitely make your family happy at the holidays!