Recipe: Andrew Carmellini’s Lamb Ragu

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In this other post, I told you how chef Andrew Carmellini of Locanda Verde wrote his cookbook in his own kitchen, and so the recipes are easy enough for anybody to do at home. That’s still true, though this recipe takes little bit of prep work: chopping carrots, measuring wine (oops! nobody will miss that) and stirring. But it’s not constant stirring. It’s the kind of, oh, let me put a load of laundry in and while I walk past the stove I’ll 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 doesn’t 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 it’s steaming instead of searing, pour the juice out and continue. Once it’s brown, add the vegetables:

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And once they’ve cooked, add the tomato sauce:

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Once it’s incorporated, add the wine:

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Let that cook until it’s completely evaporated, then add the tomatoes and chicken broth —

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— 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 you’re 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 Sheep’s 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 haven’t 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 don’t 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 it’s done, all the flavors will be melded and the sauce (if you’ve 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.

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About Author

Liz Johnson is content strategist for The Journal News and lohud.com, and the founding editor of lohudfood, formerly know as Small Bites. As food editor, she won awards from the New York News Publishers Association, the Association of Food Journalists and the Associated Press. She lives in Nyack with her husband and daughter on a tiny suburban lot they call their farm — with fruit trees, an herb garden, and a yardful of lettuce, tomatoes, onions, shallots, cucumbers, zucchini, radishes, cabbage, peppers, Brussels sprouts and carrots and four big blueberry bushes.

2 Comments

  1. That is making my mouth water. We’re going down to FL for my dad’s 75th birthday. He loves lamb, I think I will make this for him. Thanks Liz!

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