Bobbo’s Peloponnesian (that’s Greek!) Lamb Ragú
A recipe very close to my big fat Polish heart (Lamb!) — similar to a Bolognese sauce, but inspired by the international spirit of Newport, RI (greek, irish, italian, portuguese). The recipe is an original:
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 ½ cup chopped Vidalia onion
1 ½ cup chopped carrots
1 ½ cups chopped celery, including leafy green celery tops
5-10 cloves garlic (to your liking), minced
½ teaspoons dried rosemary
2 tablespoons zahtar (if unavailable add dried thyme, basil and savory equaling 2 tablespoons)
2 lbs. ground lamb (if you can’t find ground lamb, use turkey or veal rather than beef and increase spices and wine by 10%)
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 ½ cups dry red wine
1 or 2 28oz cans whole peeled Italian San Marzano tomatoes
Leaves from 6 ounces Greek oregano, chopped
Leaves from 6 ounces mint, chopped
Salt and pepper
1 lb. Rigatoni or other short pasta
2 tablespoons butter
Chop onions, carrots and celery into medium dice —about ¼ inch pieces—and keep separate.
Add 2 tablespoons olive oil to Dutch oven and heat over medium high heat. Add chopped onions to pot: add salt and pepper, stir and reduce heat to medium. Sauté onions about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add chopped carrots to cooking onions and stir. Add more salt and pepper if needed. Continue to sauté another 8 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add chopped celery and continue sautéing another 5-10 minutes until the mixture is cooked but still firm. Add more olive oil and/or salt and pepper along the way, if needed (Note: I like to add a small amount of salt and pepper at each stage of the cooking process to bring out and layer flavors). Push cooked vegetables to sides of pot, making a space in center of pan. Add remaining olive oil to center of pot, and add garlic. Sauté garlic for 2-3 minutes until aroma is released, then stir together with other vegetables in pot.
Add lamb to vegetable mixture. Mix well, breaking apart lamb to brown. Add zahtar and rosemary to mixture. Continue to cook over medium heat until lamb is thoroughly browned and liquids have evaporated. If too much grease, drain some off, but do make the mixture dry. Continue stirring another few minutes until you smell spice flavors being released. Stir in tomato paste. Raise heat to medium-high stirring occasionally and the mixture starts to caramelize on the bottom. Add red wine to mixture; stir and cook-off wine for 2-3 minutes. Mixture should be dense but not dry at this point.
Chop whole can of San Marzano tomatoes and add to ragu along with the juices from chopped tomatoes. (Note: I just squeeze and break apart the tomatoes in the pan using my hands to give it a more rustic look.) If mixture is too dry, add juice left over from tomato can. Add another can of tomatoes and juices if still too dry.
Continue cooking about 40-60 minutes until the tomatoes begin to breakdown and the color approaches a rich brick red.
While sauce is cooking, bring water to boil for pasta. Salt water. Add pasta about 20 minutes before sauce is ready. At the same time (about 20 minutes before serving) add fresh chopped oregano and mint to sauce. Keep sauce on low heat until pasta is ready.
Cook pasta until desired tenderness. Drain pasta and mix with butter and 2 cups of sauce. Keep warm. Serve buttered and sauced pasta in a warm bowl. Top with additional sauce and serve.
A spring mix salad with black olive tapenade dressing and garlic bread make a nice addition.
We usually have the Viu Manent Cabernet Sauvignon with it. I am sure you will hear about that shortly.
Light candles. Enjoy!