We are fortunate to have, within walking distance, a butcher’s that is open until 1 o’clock on Sundays and you’d be surprised at how many people gather there to shop on what should be a day of rest. Not many a Sunday ago, I managed to get there in the nick of time five minutes before closing, as they were finishing putting away the various cuts of meat and there really wasn’t much there for me to choose. I literally did an eeny-meeny-miney-mo with what was there and hey presto! I ‘chose’ some cubes of lamb on skewers that go by the name of ‘arrosticini’.
When I got home, the family craved a pasta dish of some sort and so I had to remove all the cubes of meat off the skewers and make a lamb ragù for Sunday lunch. It turned out to be very rich and filling and tasty and more-ish … and I reverently thanked the Eeeny-Meeny-Miney-Mo Saint of Sunday Lunches for having intervened so quickly and graciously. I have already written a post about the helpfulness of arrosticini (The Trouble with buffets and why arrosticini are a God-send -Nov. 2011), so I definitely saw a ‘connection’ that Sunday.
Please note that I used a pressure cooker to cook the lamb sauce. Pressure cookers may sound old fashioned and fuddy duddy but I love them for this sort of thing. It took 30 minutes to cook the ragù in a pressure cooker … it would have taken over 1 hour in an ordinary saucepan.
Ingredients: 2 onions, 2 carrots, 1 celery stalk, fresh herbs, about 10 fresh tomatoes, salt and pepper, tomato paste, 1 glass of white wine, fresh peas, fresh pasta, pecorino romano cheese.
Douse a casserole with plenty of olive oil and then add chopped/sliced carrots, celery and onion (this is known as a ‘soffritto’). Turn the heat on and sweat until fairly tender.
Now add the arrosticini (cubes of lamb) and turn the heat up.
Give it a good stir as the meat begins to lose its pink and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Squeeze about 1 tablespoon of tomato puré/paste into a glass and fill with white wine or water and stir and blend.
Wash some tomatoes (on the vine if possible, or cherry tomatoes) … Put the tomatoes on the bottom of the pressure cooker.
Then transfer the meat and vegetables to the pressure cooker and pour the glass of tomato sauce inside too. Mix well and seal the pressure cooker before switching on the heat.
Here, in the pressure cooker, cook the sauce for 30 minutes.
While the ragù is cooking … use the casserole to cook some fresh peas.
Slice an onion and sweat it in some olive oil for a few minutes …
These had been fresh peas which I had shelled and then frozen a few days previously … Add them to the onion.
Add just enough water (very little indeed) to cover the peas …
Add a teaspoon of sugar and salt and white pepper …
And cook for as long as it takes the peas to become tender (in this case it took about five minutes).
The 30 minutes are up …. the peas are ready and the ragù is cooked and tender:
Taste the ragù and add more salt if necessary.
Pour the ragù into the casserole with the peas and mix well.
Choose some fresh herbs that you love …
Chop them finely and add them to the ragù.
PART III – Time to cook the pasta
Here is some lovely fresh pasta that I had bought at the Ariccia Farmers’ Market the day before.
Drop the fettuccine into the salted boiling water and cook until ‘done’: in this case it took about 4 minutes.
Please note that there is no need to worry about pasta being ‘al dente’ when you are dealing with fresh as opposed to dry pasta, nor when dealing with egg pasta — be it fresh or dried. And please do not throw away the cooking water when dealing with fresh pasta. Fresh pasta is a guzzler and will slurp up any sauce very quickly. So it is a good idea to keep some of the cooking water, to add to the sauce if needed.
Remove the cooked pasta and put it directly into the casserole with the lamb ragù.
Use a wooden spoon or spatula or two large spoons to mix the sauce and the pasta together.
PART IV – Serve!
Shower the pasta with plenty of freshly grated pecorino cheese. Buona Domenica! Enjoy!
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