Lamb and Mushroom Ragu with Penne Pasta

Our ground lamb and goat are great for pasta sauce, and this simple lamb and mushroom ragu recipe can make for an easy dinner if you’re pressed on time, as long as you think ahead a bit (I like to make sauces like this a day beforehand and reheat them, just like in restaurants).

Lamb ragu with black trumpet mushrooms and penne in a ceramic bowl. This lamb ragu is a little different than typical sauces based on large amounts of tomato though, it’s a lighter, more delicate sauce made from simmering ground lamb with chopped vegetables and the stars: dried black trumpet mushrooms.

fresh black trumpet mushrooms in a wooden bowl.
Black trumpet mushrooms.

Black trumpet mushrooms are one of the best for drying and rehydrating as they keep their subtle texture after rehydrating without getting tough. Dried morel mushrooms are another good example, although much more expensive.

Using stew meat and ground meat

The ragu uses both ground meat and lamb stew meat for a good combination of textures, but you could substitute all of one or the other if you like.

A pan full of lamb and mushroom ragu with penne pasta.

Chef Alan Bergo
Chef Alan Bergo, The Forager Chef



This recipe is by James Beard Award-winning Chef Alan Bergo. He’s a chef from Minnesota and author of The Forager Chef’s Book of Flora. Learn more about Chef Alan at 

Looking to buy lamb or goat online? Shepherd Song Farm: Grass to table. We raise lambs & goats traditionally, humanely and sustainably. 100% Grass Fed, Pasture Raised, Never Confined, no Hormones, Grains or Animal Byproducts. Born, raised and processed in the U.S.A. Good for you and good for the environment.

Lamb and black trumpet mushroom ragu with penne pasta and parmesan cheese in a bowl.

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Lamb ragu with black trumpet mushrooms and penne
Print Recipe
5 from 1 vote

Lamb and Mushroom Ragu with Penne Pasta

A rich ragu of ground lamb or goat with black trumpet mushrooms tossed with your favorite pasta.
Prep Time30 minutes
Cook Time1 hour
Total Time1 hour 30 minutes
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American, Italian
Keyword: Black trumpet mushrooms, Ground lamb
Servings: 6
Calories: 536kcal


  • 1 Dutch oven
  • 1 large skillet


For the ragu

  • 1 lb ground lamb
  • 1 lb lamb stew meat diced ½ inch
  • 1 Small carrot
  • 1 Celery stalk
  • 1 Medium-sized onion
  • 2 large cloves garlic
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • All purpose flour or equivalent as needed
  • 20 grams Roughly one heaping cup dried black trumpet mushrooms or another dried mushroom you like porcini
  • 1 cup meat stock such as lamb or beef stock
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 1 cup milk
  • 4 oz lamb pancetta prosciutto, or bacon, diced ¼ inch
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme optional
  • light olive oil or lamb tallow as needed about 1/4 cup

For serving

  • Fresh chopped Italian parsley to taste
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • Grated parmesan to taste
  • Generous amount of fresh ground black pepper
  • 12 oz dry penne rigatoni, fusilli, or another short pasta



  • Soak the dried mushrooms in the milk and stock for 15 minutes, then agitate to remove any grit, squeeze out the liquid and remove to a cutting board. Pick the mushrooms over and remove any pieces of stem that could still include grit. Leave the mushrooms as whole as possible. Strain the soaking liquid, leaving the last tablespoon in the dish and discarding, along with any dirt.


  • If possible, season the stew meat aggressively with salt and pepper and allow to rest, uncovered in the fridge overnight on a tray or plate to dry out for the best sear, which will make the best brown bits to flavor the sauce.
  • Rough chop the vegetables and garlic, then puree in a blender with the stock and milk. In a wide pan, preferably a dutch oven, heat the oil.
  • Toss the diced, seasoned meat in the flour and brown deeply, then add the tomato paste and cook for a few minutes more, stirring occasionally to loosen bits from the pan and trying to get as much color on everything as possible.
  • Add the ground meat slowly in small handfuls, mashing it up with a spoon and cooking off it’s water so it browns in the bottom of the pan. Add a splash of wine, scrape up the brown bits, and reduce again until the pan is dry, then repeat 2-3 times to build up a good, dark foundation.
  • Finally add the remaining wine, thyme and pureed vegetable slurry, bring to a simmer and cook for 1 hour, or until tender. Adjust the seasoning, cool, cover and refrigerate.


  • To serve the ragu, heat a heaping half-cup of ragu per person in a wide pan. Meanwhile, cook the pasta until aldente, then toss with the ragu, along with a few tablespoons of cooking water, and the butter. Simmer for a minute to coat the pasta with the sauce, taste and adjust the seasoning, then toss in some parsley and grated parmesan off the heat, and serve.


If you want a ragu with more tomato flavor and a saucy consistency, 1 12 oz can of whole peeled tomatoes can be pureed and added to the meat as it cooks after you add the wine. 


Serving: 8oz | Calories: 536kcal | Carbohydrates: 7g | Protein: 32g | Fat: 38g | Saturated Fat: 17g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 14g | Trans Fat: 0.3g | Cholesterol: 143mg | Sodium: 618mg | Potassium: 601mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 391IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 78mg | Iron: 3mg