Tuesday, December 30, 2008

the very best cold-weather meal

'Twas the night before Christmas; a cold, rainy evening when we started out for our friend E's house. After a long walk from the subway (we got a little lost) Dan and I were soggy and freezing, not to mention 45 minutes late. Which isn't cool when you're the one bringing appetizers. Sorry, guys! Luckily, E already had a pot on the stove that was full of the very thing you want to eat when you're coming in from the cold: ragu.

When E originally emailed me saying he was making pasta with lamb ragu, I thought he meant Ragu. So I was totally surprised to find no empty pasta jars lying around, just a tall stockpot full of a thick, aromatic sauce. This was an all-day kind of sauce, a stay-in-and-stir kind of recipe. And when he told me it was his fifth or sixth time making it, I have to say I discovered a newfound love for the guy. And lamb ragu.

So I am willing to take bids on this fine gentleman. If you're a single lady living in the Brooklyn area (preferably off the G line) leave a note in the comments. You will not be disappointed. And E's not too shabby either.

Dinner at E'sCheese, crackers, spiced cashews, and salami-wrapped Rick's Picks Mean Beans
Pasta with lamb ragu
Arugula with parmesan and fennel
Gummy bears
Dark and Stormys (someone's been reading this blog...)

Pasta with lamb ragu
E originally found this recipe in the New York Times and has made a few tweaks since, mainly adding extra vegetables and a shit load of garlic. (His words, not mine.) He suggests cooking the vegetable puree, the base of the sauce, on low heat stirring a lot. E served this pasta over egg noodles, which I think is the very best choice. If you can't eat gluten, I recommend Sam Mills brand pasta, which is made with corn and is gluten- and wheat-free. The ziti noodles I bought tasted surprisingly like regular pasta.
(Serves 6 to 8 people)

1 large onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
3 celery stalks, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
Extra virgin olive oil

3 lbs. ground lamb leg or shoulder
1 cup tomato paste
3 cups of hearty red wine (basically one bottle)
2 Tbsp. fresh rosemary chopped
3 bay leaves
2 Tbsp. fresh thyme
Ground black pepper

2 large bags egg noodles
Parmesan to top the pasta

Using a food processor, puree the onion, carrots, celery, and garlic to a coarse paste. Coat a large pan generously with olive oil and set over medium heat. Add the pureed vegetables, season with salt and cook until the water has evaporated and the vegetables begin to brown, 15 to 20 minutes. Stir frequently and be patient--this is where big flavor develops.

Add the lamb, season generously with salt and cook until it is browned, about 25 to 30 minutes--brown food tastes good, don't rush this step. Add the tomato paste and cook for 5 minutes. Stir in the red wine, rosemary, and bay leaves. Cook at a lively simmer until the wine has reduced by half. Add the thyme and enough water to cover lamb by 1 inch. Simmer for 3 to 4 hours, stirring and tasting frequently and adding more water as it evaporates.

Skim the fat off the surface. Remove the bay leaves. Season with salt and pepper. Toss with al dente pasta and grated parmesan.


Anonymous said...

Damn! It really sounds delicious. I'm sorry we weren't there!

Daniel said...

Would it offend you, E, if I said I was surprised by how good this was.

I don't know why, though. You live your entire life at a lively simmer.

Lisa said...

Hmm...why are these comments from two guys? Ladies, are you out there?

Who wants to put a ring on E's ragu?

E. Tyler Lindvall said...

Yeah, I agree with Lisa. Dudes should really quit flirting with me via this dinner party blog. Where are the ladies? I can make other things too. Just throwing that out there.

Anonymous said...
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Unknown said...

I prefer gluten free pasta so I think I will try that Sam Mills brand. It’s not cold here at the moment but the air conditioner is turned on max always. I want pasta for lunch tomorrow. I will ask my mom to try making this pasta recipe.


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