Braised Lamb Sugo (Sunday Gravy)

A classic Italian meat sauce, Sunday gravy is basically a slow-cooked meat lovers paradise, and it’s my favorite braised lamb ragu recipe for pasta. There’s lots of ways to be creative with it and you can mix and match different cuts of meat. Read on and I’ll explain how it’s made.

Lamb Sunday Gravy with lamb Italian sausage, tongue and conchiglie pasta in a bowl garnished with parmesan and parsley.
A bowl of braised lamb sugo tossed with pasta, parmesan and parsley.

What is Sunday Gravy?

An Italian American tradition, Sunday gravy, like it’s name implies, is typically made on Sundays and weekends, since most people have more time to let something simmer all day on the stove. I tasted my first version of it when I was a chef at The Chambers Hotel in Minneapolis working under Chef John Occhiato at D’amico Cucina, the Flagship Restaurant of the D’amico company, known around the Twin Cities for their string of fast-casual Italian restaurants, and fine dining locations dotted throughout the cities.

There’s as many recipes for Sunday gravy as there are stars in the sky, but one thing that chef told me that I remembered was that it should always include multiple types of meat. At the restaurant, we made a version with whole chickens and sausages, along with pork shoulder leftover from the previous night’s service, but I think it’s totally fine to make one using all cuts from one animal, like I’ve done here with Shepherd Song’s lamb and goat.

Cooked conchiglie pasta in a bowl.
You’ll want a chunky pasta like penne, rigatoni, or these large conchiglie to catch the sauce.

I like to make sure that there’s some difference in texture and shape to the meats, and I like to make sure I use at least one cured meat, like sausage or meatballs. Think of the recipe as an invitation to experiment with a few of your favorite cuts, just try to keep in mind that you should be able to tell the different cuts apart when they’re eaten. For example, I wouldn’t use pulled pork shoulder and pulled chicken in the same Sunday gravy, but I might use pulled chicken and pork sausage. Here’s a few things I’d keep in mind, along with a different combinations of lamb and goat you might try.

Lamb saratoga, sausage, and tongue for Sunday gravy
Our lamb Sunday gravy is made with three cuts of lamb: saratoga, sausage, and tongue. Feel free to come up with your own blend of cuts.

The Best Cuts of Meat for Sugo

You want a variety of textures, I like one roast or something with a bone that can be shredded or pulled, one cured meat, like a sausage, ham, salami or meatballs (or a combination) and one “wild card” which could be whatever you like or have on hand. For the wild card here, I used tongue, since it keeps it’s shape and is easily diced. Here’s a few combinations to try.

  • Sausage, lamb shoulder and tongue
  • Meatballs, neck, and shank (diced)
  • Bone in goat or lamb, sausage, and sweetbreads (blanched and chopped)
  • Ground lamb, sausage and pieces of braised, pulled shoulder or saratoga
Lamb Sunday Gravy in a pan tossed with pasta.
Finish the pasta by simmering the sauce with the noodles for a bit to tighten it up.
Chef Alan Bergo
Chef Alan Bergo, The Forager Chef



This recipe is by Chef Alan Bergo, the Forager Chef. A chef from Minnesota, Alan is a culinary industry veteran, former executive chef of acclaimed Lucia’s Restaurant, and the Salt Cellar. Author of The Forager Chef’s Book of Flora, he’s one of the most respected voices in the world of foraging and wild food. He’s best known as the founder of Forager Chef, his website focused on wild ingredients that reaches millions of readers each year. Learn more about Chef Alan and his hunt for mushrooms, wild and obscure foods 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 Sunday Gravy with lamb Italian sausage, tongue and saratoga roast tossed with pasta garnished with parsley and parmesan.
Serve the sugo with parsley and parmesan cheese.

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Lamb Sunday Gravy with lamb Italian sausage, tongue and saratoga roast
Print Recipe
5 from 1 vote

Braised Lamb Sugo (Sunday Gravy)

A rich pasta sauce made with three different cuts of slow braised tender lamb or goat. Makes 4-6 generous portions.
Prep Time45 minutes
Cook Time3 hours
Chilling time8 hours
Total Time11 hours 45 minutes
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: Goat, Lamb, lamb ragu recipe, Sunday Gravy
Servings: 4 People
Calories: 407kcal
Cost: 20


  • 1 Dutch oven or braising pot
  • 1 large pasta pot
  • 1 wooden spoon


Sunday Gravy

  • 1.5-2 lb piece of lamb on the bone, like a shank or shoulder
  • 10 oz lamb sausage preferably flavored with fennel seed, like our lamb Italian sausage
  • 1 6 oz tongue
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 1 8 oz onion
  • ¼ cup dry red wine
  • 2 large cans tomato pureed and strained to remove seeds
  • Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • 2 tablespoons cooking olive oil


  • Grated parmesan
  • ½ tablespoon unsalted butter per serving
  • Small handful of chopped Italian parsley
  • Cooked pasta 4-5 oz per person, preferably a shell or hollow type such as rigatoni, penne or conchiglie


Sunday Gravy

  • Season the shoulder or shank all over with salt and pepper. In a dutch oven or other braising pot with high sides, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil and brown the Saratoga on all sides on medium-high heat, take your time, this will probably take about 20 minutes, but will help build good flavor in the finished dish. Preheat the oven to 275 F.
  • Remove the meat, discard the spent/cooked oil, replace with another tablespoon of fresh oil, and brown the sausages and the tongue.
  • Add the onions and garlic and cook for a few minutes more. Add the wine to the pan, stirring to loosen any brown bits on the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon, then add the tomato puree. Add the browned lamb back to the pot, along with the bay leaves.


  • Transfer the pot to the oven and bake for 2.5 hours, or until the meat from the Saratoga moves freely from the bone. You can also simmer the pot on the stove, but it's easier for it to splatter and make a mess. After cooking, remove the pot from the oven and cool to room temperature, uncovered, then chill.

Chill and remove the fat

  • Scrape the congealed fat from the top of the dish and discard, then warm the sauce up to room temperature on medium heat. Remove the tongue, Saratoga and sausages from the pot. Using gloves to handle the meat, cut the meat from the Saratoga and then cut it into 1 inch pieces. Cut the sausages into ½ inch coins. Peel the tongue and cut into ½ inch cubes. Add the cut meats back to the pot.
  • Simmer the sauce for another 20-30 minutes on medium-low heat to reduce it and remove some of the water, double check the seasoning for salt and pepper and adjust as needed, then prepare to serve.
  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta al dente.


  • To serve, for each 4-5 oz of cooked pasta, heat up a heaping cup of sauce. Warm the pasta in the sauce, adding the butter and mixing until incorporated. When the sauce is hot, toss in the parmesan and parsley to taste, and serve.


You can mix and match your favorite meats by substituting their weights. 


Serving: 8oz | Calories: 407kcal | Carbohydrates: 8g | Protein: 23g | Fat: 30g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 5g | Monounsaturated Fat: 14g | Trans Fat: 0.2g | Cholesterol: 87mg | Sodium: 483mg | Potassium: 474mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 104IU | Vitamin C: 6mg | Calcium: 41mg | Iron: 2mg