This recipe has been handed down for several generations through relatives on my mothers side of the family. The original recipe stemmed from one George Manfreddi. George was a kindly hunchback with a talent for cooking like few men ever know. George always cooked his sauce for at least 3 days, and, he started with fresh tomatoes. The recipe presented here doesn't need to be cooked that long because canned tomatoes are called for. Three to four hours cooking is a minimum however. The longer that the sauce is cooked, the better it will be. If you happen to have fresh tomatoes, then use them in this recipe and cook the sauce longer. Bear in mind that the longer the sauce is cooked, the better it will be.
The sauce is what makes this dish unique is the lamb sauce. We always make a generous amount of this dish because it makes excellent leftovers. In fact, it seems that this dish tastes better the next day, when the flavors have had an opportunity to blend. The quantities in this recipe are for a substantial portion, capable of serving 12 adults, but don't underestimate the ability of children to put heaping quantities of mostaciolli into their bellies. It is always better to make too much than too little of this dish.
This dish, as with most Italian dishes, goes well with garlic bread and a green salad. Feta cheese also goes well with this dish as a rich accompaniment.
2 lbs. mostaciolli noodles
2 lbs. lamb meat (neck meat, shank, leg of lamb, or low priced chops may be used)
6 large cans Italian tomatoes (other tomatoes may be used)
¼ cup olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1 Tbls. sweet basil
1 tsp. oregano
½ tsp. marjoram
½ tsp. summer savory
¼ tsp. thyme
¼ tsp. rosemary
8 cloves chopped garlic
1 medium diced onion
4 Tbls. heart of celery leaves
¼ tsp. crushed fennel seed
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 bay leaf
1 Tbls. butter
Brown the lamb meat over medium heat in a large pot with the olive oil, adding the salt and pepper to taste. When the meat has browned, add the onion and garlic and cook an additional 2 minutes.
Next, add the tomatoes and any liquid, basil, oregano, marjoram, savory and celery leaves. Crush the fennel seed and add to the pot. Reduce the heat to a simmer and add the bay leaf and Worcestershire sauce.
Allow the sauce to simmer for three hours, stirring every 20 minutes or so. After the sauce has simmered for three hours, check the meat for tenderness and use a spoon or fork to remove any bones from the sauce. Next, use a potato masher to crush the tomatoes and meat into the sauce and continue to simmer until the sauce thickens. If desired, add a can of tomato paste to aid the thickening process. Finally, add the butter and melt it into the sauce, stirring thoroughly. Simmer the sauce for an additional hour. Add a few more cloves of garlic at this point if you like the flavor.
While the sauce is in the final stages of cooking, prepare the noodles according to the directions on the package, or boil them in salted water with a little olive oil for 11 minutes, stirring frequently. Mix the noodles and sauce prior to serving and top with grated Parmesan or Romano cheese. Serve and be complemented!