I love recipes that come together with ‘a bissel of this and a bissel of that’. It always reminds me of the way my Bubie Annie cooked. Hard to follow her explanations, but the result was always a rustic masterpiece. She made strudel that was legendary; a procedure my sister Ellen watched and documented but I never had the wisdom to do. I remember one occasion, while we were at her house for shabbos dinner and I told her I didn’t want to eat something. She immediately told me that there were no calories in her dish so I could eat it! Her food was schmaltzy and delicious and made with love. Always.
LAMB RAGU, WITH A BISSEL OF THIS AND A BISSEL OF THAT …
This comes together fairly quickly.
2 Lamb Sausage, approx 1lb, casing removed and discarded
1 medium purple or vidalia onion, thinly sliced then coarsely chopped
6 garlic cloves, grated — I use a microplane
Chili Pepper Flakes, approx 1/2 tsp
1 cup roasted mushrooms*
1 large can good quality tomatoes,
diced Fresh Rosemary, chopped, approx 2 tbsp
Drinkable Red Wine, 1/2 cup … more or less
Vegetable Broth, 1 cup
Fresh Arugula, Chopped, 2-3 handfuls
Kosher salt and pepper
Heat a large skillet and add enough olive oil to just coat the bottom. Add all the onions with a few pinches of kosher salt and cook just until the onions start to brown. Then, add the garlic and a few sprinkles of chili flakes (according to the amount of heat you can tolerate). After 30 seconds — or just until you begin to smell the wonderful aroma of the cooked garlic — add the seasoned-ground lamb. Stir to combine.
Continue cooking until all the meat has lost it’s red color. Add the diced tomatoes and roasted mushrooms. Continue to cook until the extra liquid from the tomatoes has evaporated. Add a few ‘glubs’ of vegetable broth, a generous amount of fresh pepper and the rosemary.
When the sauce starts to get too dry, add 1/4-1/2 cup good quality red wine. Cook for another 2-3 minutes then add more vegetable broth. Reduce heat to low and allow it to continue to simmer.
While you make the pasta, add the chopped arugula (or kale or Broccoli rabe), adding more vegetable broth as needed.
Cook the pasta in heavily salted boiling water. Keep in mind, to get perfectly cooked pasta, reduce the cooking time written on the box by half and that’s when you should start checking for al dente. Pasta continues to cook even after you take it out of the water — you do not want to end up with soft, mushy pasta as a vehicle for your Lamb Ragu.
When the pasta just becomes chewable rather than hard, using a slotted spoon or tongs start adding it to the ragu sauce, allowing some of the cooking water to transition along with the pasta. Cook just until blended, another minute or so, then serve.
*I like to keep roasted mushrooms on hand, either in the fridge or freezer. If you don’t have any already roasted, they’re fairly simple to prepare for the pasta. Heat a tsp of olive oil in a stainless steel sauté pan, add 3 cups of cleaned and sliced mushrooms, scant 1/4 tsp kosher salt and fresh pepper. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring every few minutes. The mushrooms will release a lot of moisture, continue to cook until the moisture has evaporated and the mushrooms have browned.