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Recipe: Andrew Carmellini's Lamb Ragu

In the last post, I told you how chef Andrew Carmellini of Locanda Verde (check out our visit last fall on this post here), wrote his cookbook in his own kitchen, and so the recipes are easy enough for anybody to do at home. Thatís still true, though this recipe takes little bit of prep work: chopping carrots, measuring wine (oops! nobody will miss that) and stirring. But itís not constant stirring. Itís the kind of, oh, let me put a load of laundry in and while I walk past the stove Iíll give that pot a stir kind of stirring. And when supper times comes, it will be well worth it. Very well worth it.

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Start by getting out all your ingredients.

Clockwise from left, wine, olive oil, cumin, coriander, fennel, red pepper flakes, rigatoni, ground lamb, chicken broth, good canned tomatoes, thyme, rosemary, onions, carrots and celery.

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Do your prep. Chop and measure:

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Heat up your pan and get out your lamb.

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Put the oil in the pan, then drop the lamb into it with your fingers, pulling your hand quickly up as if you were conducting a symphony. (So splattering oil doesnít hit you.)

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Brown the lamb. As Andrew says in the recipe, you may get a lot of juice coming out of the lamb. If itís steaming instead of searing, pour the juice out and continue. Once itís brown, add the vegetables:

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And once theyíve cooked, add the tomato sauce:

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Once itís incorporated, add the wine:

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Let that cook until itís completely evaporated, then add the tomatoes and chicken broth ó

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ó and your herbs and spices:

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Let it simmer, stirring occasionally, for at least 1 1/2 hours.

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I think I cooked mine about 3 hours before it looked like this:

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When youíre ready for supper, cook your pasta. Then toss it into the sauce, adding oil, butter and mint:

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Then garnish with a nice dollop of ricotta, recipe here.

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A delicious dinner.

Lamb Ragu, from Andrew Carmellini's Urban Italian cookbook.

1/4 cup olive oil
1 1/2 pounds ground lamb, shoulder if possible
1/2 cup finely dinced carrot
1/2 cup finely diced onion
1/2 cup finely diced celery
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 1/2 cups red wine
1 cup canned cherry tomatoes or good quality Italian canned whole tomatoes
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teasoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground fennel
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon coarse-ground pepper

To finish the dish:
1 pound pasta
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup grated pecorino cheese
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint

A dollop of Sheepís Milk Ricotta

Heat the olive oil in a large stewpot over medium-high heat. (You need a pot with a very large bottom in order to brown the meat all at onc e. If you havenít got one, brown the meat in a large saucepan first, and then add it to the stewpot.

Add the ground lamb, breaking it apart into small bits as you drop it into the oil, and brown it over high heat, about 5 minutes. If the lamb releases a lot of liquid (and it probably will) so that the meat begins to steam instead of browning, just drain off the juice and pot the pot back on the heat to start the browning process again.

Add the carrots, onion and celery and mix well. Cook together over high heat until the vegetables begin to soften, about 2 minutes.

Add the tomato paste and stir to incorporate. Cook together until the mixture becomes a thick, reddish mix, about 1 minute.

Add the red wine and stir to incorporate, making sure that no bits of meat or vegetable are sticking to the bottom. Use a wooden spoon or rubber spatula to scrape down the sides; you donít want bits of sauce to burn and flavor the whole ragu. Cook until the wine evaporates completely, about 2 minutes.

Add the canned tomatoes and the broth. Then add the bay leaves, cumin, coriander, fennel, red pepper flakes, thyme, rosemary, salt and pepper.

Bring the mixture to a low boil, and then reduce the heat to medium low to keep the ragu cooking at a simmer. Cook the lamb, uncovered, until the liquid evaporates and the flavores meld, about 1 1/2 hours. Continue scraping the sides of the pot at regular intervals to avoid burnt bits. The meat will turn dark brown and the liquid will turn a dark orange color as it cooks. When itís done, all the flavors will be melded and the sauce (if youíve broken the meat up enough) will look like a sauce: dark brown, rich, thick and textured.

To finish the dish:
Cook the pasta.

Drain the pasta, add it to the sauce, and stir together over the heat, adding the olive oil, butter, and mint to make it smooth and rich-tasting on the tongue.

Remove the pot from the heat, ladel the pasta and sauce into individual bowls and top the pecorino. Garnish with a dollop of ricotta.

22:06:00 on 02/06/10 by liz - Category: Recipes

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