After making a soffritto and browning the lamb, a few tomatoes and wine and water were added to the ragù, the casserole dish covered, and it was left to simmer for one hour. After the initial half an hour, the meat got turned onto its other side.
A bunch of asparagus was trimmed of the woody parts and what was left cut into two parts. The tips of the asparagus were set aside for the time being. The rest was cooked in another pan with some water, until tender, and then processed with an electric blender.
The lamb was still a bit tough after one hour and so I let it cook another 20 minutes (total so far being 1 hour 20 minutes). At this point :
I removed the meat temporarily from the casserole dish and used a ladle to pour in the asparagus that got blended into a soup-like consistency. The reason I removed the meat was so that I could ‘check’ on the consistency of the sauce. From now on, after I’ve put the meat back in, I am going to cook the ragù at a high temperature for about 15 minutes, which means that the sauce is going to evaporate … thus it must be quite liquidy at first.
Can you see how the sauce has gone a very light shade of pea-green? It is bubbling away …
And while the ragù is bubbling away, it is now time to cook the asparagus tips …. in what was left over of the asparagus ‘soup’ …. can you see it, in the background casserole? You don’t want to overcook the tips … it’s nice if there is a bit of crunch to them.
It’s time now, also, to boil some water to cook the pasta in (sorry, no photo of this, but it’s not exactly rocket science to imagine it).
You know that the meat is ready … tender … when you can ‘flake’ it with a wooden spoon. You can now switch off the heat. The ragù’s total cooking time. i.e. from when I covered it with a lid, was 1 hour 33 minutes.
And this is where I get all technological. The correct thing to do, I suppose, would have been to take the lamb out of the casserole dish onto a chopping board …. remove all the meat and de-bone it, and then chop up all the meat. But I was getting hungry at this point and chose to resort to a pair of scissors to do the job …. yes, I mean it …. use the scissors to cut up the meat into a ragù-like consistency!
I took out the bones (see background) and put them onto another dish … but look at what’s IN the casserole dish … not bad eh, for scissors?
I apologise but I am having one of those “I am just so clever” moments … but do admit … isn’t that the best scissored ragù you’ve ever set eyes upon!!!
Now is the time to add the asparagus tips … and get on with the pasta. For this kind of ragù, and because it was Sunday, I thought that fresh egg-pasta would be the bees-knees. I didn’t make it myself … but I bought it in a shop that does make very very good fresh pasta.
The water is bubbling away, a proper amount of salt has been added to it previously, and it’s now high time to plop the pasta into it … it’s getting on for almost three o’clock and the table has been laid … “Almost rea-dy” I shout to husband and two kids …. “Is the table laid?”
My obliging husband has already grated some pecorino cheese … but I ask him to great some more directly into the casserole dish (I HATE grating cheese …).
Drain the past directly into the ragù … this is fresh, egg pasta … and can dry up very quickly.
Here I am busy stirring the pasta so that it absorbs all the sauce … and adding a little bit of the cooking water and a little bit of the asparagus ‘soup’ so that the pasta stays nice and moist …. and tasty, of course! Don’t skimp with the pecorino cheese.
And yes … yes, it WAS good … even if I say so myself! It was very filling and satisfying and the asparagus tips gave just the right amount of crunch and freshness to offset the thick and delicious fattiness of the ragù and the creaminess of a lot — and I mean a lot — of grated pecorino cheese.
Yes, Sunday lunches have a lot on which to commend themselves …