Papperdalle with Lamb Ragu

Almost two years ago, the hubby found this recipe in an issue of Wine Spectator magazine and it quickly became one of our absolute favorite winter pasta dishes.  It offers a more flavorful and rich take on traditional ragu sauce, but honestly, I’ll never go back to the old stuff.  The sauce can easily be made on a weekend when you have a bit more time and reheated on the stove a night or two later for a fast-assembled weeknight meal.  The mint adds a nice layer of flavors, but if that isn’t your fave, then leave it out.  The real highlight is the flavor of the lamb with the veggies and spices.  Oh, and in this house, we use both the ricotta and pecorino…who doesn’t love TONS of cheese on their pasta, right?!  You should make this, I promise you’ll love it!
You will need:

1/4 cup olive oil
1 1/2 pounds ground lamb
1/2 cup finely diced carrot
1/2 cup finely diced onion
1/2 cup finely diced celery
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 1/2 cups dry red wine
1 cup canned cherry tomatoes
3 cups chicken broth
2 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon 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 black pepper

Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat.  Add the ground lamb, breaking it apart into small bits as you drop it into the oil, an drown it over high heat, about 5 minutes.  *Note: You may have to brown the meat in batches if the bottom of your pot isn’t large enough.  If the meat releases a lot of liquid and it’t not browning, just drain off the juice and put the pot back on the heat to start browning again.

Add the carrots, onion and celery and mix well.  Cook over high that until the vegetables start to soften, about 2 minutes.  Add the tomato paste and stir to incorporate.  Cook 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.  continually scrape down the sides so that nothing burns.  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 flexes, thyme, rosemary, salt and pepper.  Scrape down the sides of the pot again.

Bring the mixture to a low boil, and then reduce the heat to medium-low to keep the ragu cooking at a simmer.  Cook uncovered until the liquid evaporates and the flavors meld, about 1.5 hours.  Continue scraping the sides and bottom of the pot at regular intervals to avoid any burned bits.  the meat will turn dark brown and the liquid will turn a dark orange color as it cooks.

Note: the sauce holds in the fridge for up to 2 days or in the freezer for up to a month.

To finish the dish:
1 pound papperdalle pasta
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1/4-1/2 cup grated pecorino or ricotta cheese
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint (if you wish)

Cook the pasta according to the directions, drain and add to the sauce.  Stir together over the heat, adding the olive oil, butter and mint to make it smooth and rich.  Remove pot from heat, ladle pasta and sauce into individual bowls and top with the cheese.

Serves: 6
Time: 30 minutes prep + 2 hours to cook
From: Urban Italian

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  1. Bill
    Posted July 24, 2012 at 7:13 pm | Permalink

    So what’s that cottage cheese looking stuff on the top in the picture?

    I’ve made this recipe and derivatives many times. It is excellent. I use it for a layer of lasagne a la a Mario Batali recipe. I never woulda thought about a cumin/fennel/coriander spice mix for a ragu like this….

    • Ali
      Posted July 24, 2012 at 9:28 pm | Permalink

      It’s ricotta. It’s an interesting combo of spices and flavors, but makes an amazingly good ragu! Hope you try this one, too!

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