lamb ragu goralkaLamb Ragu from Cacio Restaurant in Sacramento

Katie Kinner-Kerksieck and Jonathan Kerksieck's relationship is the kind of story Hallmark movies are built on. The couple met while working at downtown restaurant Grange in 2008, Jonathan as the chef de cuisine and Katie as the front-of-house manager, and they bonded over the cacio e pepe he made her early in their courtship. That became the namesake for their snug Italian restaurant in the mostly residential neighborhood of Greenhaven, where the menu changes seasonally. Cacio's owners recommend serving this lamb ragu in spring over a ribbon pasta (pappardelle, fettuccine) or short pasta (penne, fusilli). 

TIME: About 1 hour 




  • 2 1/2 pounds ground lamb 
  • 1 pound onion 
  • 1 pound carrots 
  • 1 pound celery (about 8 ribs) 
  • 1/2 pound fennel 
  • 6 garlic cloves 
  • 1/4 cup olive oil 
  • 1 tablespoon fennel seeds, toasted and ground 
  • 1/2 tablespoon fennel pollen 
  • 1 cup red wine 
  • 28-ounce can of DiNapoli organic whole peeled plum tomatoes 
  • Salt to taste 
  • Pepper to taste 
  • Parmesan cheese, pecorino or ricotta salata to garnish 


  1. Heat the olive oil in a 5- or 6-quart pot (stainless steel or enameled preferred) over medium heat. Add lamb to pot and cook, stirring frequently, until the meat is in small brown crumbles, about 10-15 minutes. 
  2. While the lamb is browning, use a food processor to finely mince the onion, carrots, celery, fennel and garlic. 
  3. When the lamb has browned, deglaze with red wine and add the vegetables. Stir vegetables and cook into the meat for about 5 minutes. 
  4. Hand-crush the tomatoes and add to the pot. Stir in fennel seeds and fennel pollen. 
  5. Turn the heat down to a simmer and continue cooking for about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally so as to not burn the bottom of the pot. 
  6. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and garnish with your choice of hard cheese. 

Chef's notes 

Baby spinach, fava beans and artichoke hearts all make nice additions to this sauce. If using, add those in a sauté pan as you toss the pasta and sauce together. 

Enjoy this and other delicious dishes at:
7600 Greenhaven Drive, Suite 23, Sacramento (916) 399-9309

cacio sacramento goralka

Check out this recipe from another one of our favorite restaurants: Beef Wellington from The Firehouse Restaurant Sacramento

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