Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Pappardelle with Lamb Ragù, Ricotta & Mint

The World Cup came to a screeching halt last Saturday when the U.S. lost against Ghana in overtime. We were at Bill’s Off Broadway watching with a packed house of hardcore fans, including one dressed as George Washington in an American flag cape. It was close, and I do think we got screwed, but in the end, the tragic truth was that the U.S. was out.

We left Bill’s with hung heads, teary eyes and hoarse voices. What a way to start a Saturday.

But we had rapidly approaching dinner plans and needed to buck up, fast. We had no idea what we were making and immediately started brainstorming quick menus that were just a notch or two above the ordinary. This particular lamb ragù fit the bill perfectly.

It’s adapted from a Food & Wine recipe that has been in my “must cook” pile for quite some time. What goes better with flavorful lamb than reduced wine, stock, a handful of savory spices, ricotta cheese and fresh mint? Not much.

I was able to get the ragù simmering away in less than 30 minutes, plus the fresh pasta only took about 3. It tastes decadent and complex but it’s simple enough to throw together at the eleventh hour… even if you are nursing some fresh wounds.

Pappardelle with Lamb Ragù, Ricotta and Mint 
This has even deeper flavors the next day. Adapted from an Andrew Carmellini recipe in Food & Wine. 

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 carrot, finely diced
1 onion, finely diced
1 celery rib, finely diced
1 1/2 pounds ground lamb
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground fennel seeds
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped rosemary
1 1/2 teaspoon chopped thyme
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 1/2 tablespoon tomato paste
1 cup dry red wine
One 28-ounce can diced tomatoes (you don’t have to but I added an extra 14 ounce can as well)
1 1/4 cups chicken stock or low-sodium broth
3/4 pound pappardelle
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 cup fresh ricotta cheese
3 tablespoons chopped mint

In a large heavy pot, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the carrot, onion and celery and cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly softened, about 5 minutes. Add the ground lamb, coriander, fennel, cumin, rosemary and thyme. Season with a hearty pinch of salt and a few fresh grinds of black pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until most of the liquid has evaporated, about 5 minutes. Add the tomato paste and stir well, allowing some of that raw taste to cook out of it, about 1 minute. Add the wine and cook until evaporated, about 5 minutes. Next, add the diced tomatoes and their juices (and a little extra if you’re like me) along with the stock; bring to a boil. Partially cover the pot and cook over moderately low heat until the liquid is slightly reduced and slightly thickened, 25-30 minutes.

Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until it’s al dente (if you’re using fresh pasta, this should only take about 3 minutes). Drain, return to the pot and add the butter; toss well.

Divide pasta among plates and top with a ladel of hot ragu. Place a scoop of ricotta cheese on top of each with a drizzle of olive oil, a sprinkling of kosher salt and pepper and some fresh mint.


erik the eater said...

i would say at LEAST three notches above the ordinary

James said...

I had something similar in Florence a while back but made with wild boar... just didn't ant it to end.