Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Pappardelle with Spicy Lamb Ragu

For a couple of years, I went to wine tastings with Clare at the National Geographic Society.  At these tastings, Joshua Wesson (the founder of Best Cellars) introduced the audience to an array of different wines and, in the process, offer advice on pairing those wines with food.  I really enjoyed those tastings and, at one of them, I bought Josh's cookbook, Wine & Food: A New Look at Flavor.  This cookbook is a great read, especially for someone like myself ... who knows little about wine pairing but is eager to learn.  It contains over fifty recipes and, just like the wine tastings, Joshua provides wine pairing suggestions for each one. 

I have read Joshua's book a few times, trying to absorb as much as I can about wine tasting and pairing.  I have always wanted to make some of the recipes from the book and pair them to the wines that Josh recommends.  One particular recipe is the Pappardelle with Spicy Lamb Ragu.  This dish draws its inspiration from Bolognese-style sauce.  Recently, I purchased a package of pappardelle from a local store with the specific intent of making this recipe.  However, I have been very busy at work lately and I kept putting off making this dish.  The package of pappardelle sat in our pantry for days and then weeks. 

After one particularly long and hard day at work, I decided that I would make the Pappardelle with Spicy Lamb Ragu.  My decision was definitely worth it. I followed the recipe with one exception.  I substituted unsalted beef stock for beef broth.  I made this substitution because I generally prefer using stock to broth, and, when a recipe calls for broth, I almost invariably substitute stock.  The dish still turned out very well and, as exhausted as I was, I enjoyed a great meal  ... and two great lunches thereafter. 

Recipe from Joshua Wesson, Wine & Food, A New Look at Flavor, page 129
Serves 4

2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
1 pound of ground lamb
1 yellow onion, minced
1 cup finely chopped fresh cremini mushrooms
1/4 teaspoon of crushed red pepper, or to taste
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 3/4 cups of reduced sodium beef broth
1/4 cup dry red wine
1 cup tomato sauce
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar
2 small fresh rosemary or thyme sprigs
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
3/4 pound dried pappardelle
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese,
     plus more for serving
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat leaf parsley

1.  Brown the lamb.  In a non-stick frying pan large enough to hold the sauce and the pasta, heat the oil over high heat.  Add the lamb and saute, stirring to break up any clumps, until lightly browned, about 8 minutes.  Using a slotted spoon, transfer the lamb to a plate.

2.  Saute the vegetables.  Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of the fat from the pan and return the pan to medium heat.  Add the onion, mushrooms, and red pepper flakes and saute until the mushrooms have released their moisture and the onion is translucent and soft, about 5-7 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. 

3.  Finish the sauce.  Return the lamb to the pan and add the broth, 1/2 cup of water, the wine, tomato sauce, tomato paste and rosemary.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer gently, uncovered until the sauce has thickened slightly, 25-30 minutes.  Add the vinegar and cook for 1 minute longer.  Taste and season with salt and pepper.  Keep warm over low heat.

4.  Cook the pasta.  About 15 minutes before the sauce is ready, bring a large pot three-fourths full of salted water to a boil.  Add the pappardelle and cook until al dente, 8 to 10 minutes or according to the package directions.   

5.  Finish the dish. Raise the heat under the sauce to medium.  Drain the pasta, add it to the sauce, and toss and stir to combine.  Add the 1/4 cup of Parmesan, the parsley and again toss to combine. 

6.  Plate the dish.  Divide the pasta among warmed shallow bowls and serve right away.  Pass additional Parmesan at the table. 


As I  mentioned at the outset of this post, the great thing about Joshua's book is that he offers pairing suggestions for each of the recipes.  The suggestions include New World wines, Old World wines, and alternative pairings.  For this recipe, the "New World" match was a Sangiovese wine from the Mendoza region of Argentina.  The "Old World" pairing was a northern Italian Barbara wine.  The "alternative pairing" was a Californian Blanc de Noirs or a Sangiovese Rose.  Of all these suggestions, I was able to find a Barbera d'Asti, which comes from the northern Italian region of Piedmont:

Crivelli -- Collina La Mora Barbera D'Asti (2009)
100% Barbera
D'Asti, Piedmont, Italy
Flavors of cherries and raspberries with faint hint of spice

According to Josh, a Barbera wine has the natural acidity to match with the tomato in the sauce and to balance the richness of the ground lamb.  He was right.  The Barbera worked perfectly with this dish. 



Angela G. at Spice or Die said...

I adore ground lamb and this preparation sounds amazing. Wanted to let you know that I am doing a link roundup for awesome bolognese recipes over at my site, Spice or Die, and I included a link to this recipe :) You can check it out here: http://www.spiceordie.com/2012/05/throwback-tuesday-bolognese-recipes/

Keith Bolek said...

Thank you very much. You have a great website!

Kate Frenette said...

We made this tonight and it was delicious! We paired it with McManis Zinfandel, which was lovely. Thanks for the recipe!

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