Rigatoni with Hearty Lamb Sauce


1 pound Rigatoni, Medium Shells, or other medium pasta shape -- uncooked
12 ounces lamb stew meat
OR
2 pounds shoulder lamb chops
1 cup canned Italian plum tomatoes
OR
1 cup canned crushed tomatoes
1 tablespoon olive oil
OR
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 cloves garlic -- peeled and finely chopped
1 medium onion -- finely chopped
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary -- finely chopped
OR
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary*
1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme -- finely chopped
OR
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1 1/2 cups dry red wine
1 pinch ground nutmeg and ground cloves (each)
Salt and pepper -- to taste
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Ask the grocery butcher to remove fat from the meat and coarsely grind the lamb for you. Or, remove the fat and bone and coarsely chop the meat in a food processor. Place the plum tomatoes in a bowl and break up with a fork until coarsely crushed.

Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the lamb and garlic and cook until the meat begins to brown, about 3 minutes. Add the onion, rosemary and thyme; cook 1 minute. Add the crushed tomatoes, wine, nutmeg, cloves and salt and pepper to taste. Heat to a boil and reduce the heat to simmering. Cook, uncovered, until the lamb is very tender, about 45 minutes. Check the lamb occasionally. There should always be enough liquid to cover the meat. If not, add a small amount of water.

Prepare pasta according to package directions; drain. Return the pasta to the pot. Add the lamb sauce to the pot and cook over low heat until heated through, stirring constantly. Stir in half the Parmesan cheese. Divide pasta among serving bowls. Sprinkle with remaining cheese and serve.

Serves 4 to 6



NOTES : *If using dried rosemary, soften it as follows: Place the rosemary in a heatproof bowl and pour about 1 cup boiling water over it. Let stand 5 minutes. Drain before using.