With this pandemic, everyone is cooking more. For me, that meant it was time to get creative. Spaghetti and meatballs are soooooo yesterday. I decided to kick it up a notch and do a spicy lamb ragu with pappardelle. Pasta is such a comfort food. The weather should be getting cooler soon and I am here for it; I love fall. It’s the basic bitch in me.

This dish is as spicy as you want it to be. I made it a little too spicy by going wild with the red pepper flakes, but it was so tasty that I pushed past the heat. I paired this with a Barbera D’Asti. Right off the bat, I was thinking that a spicy dish may not go with a red. I thought the wine would just make my mouth feel even more on fire. But no! It absolutely did not! The Barbera D’Asti paired so well. It was juicy and fruit-forward and the acidity of the wine really meshed well with the acidity of the sauce. The sauce is very tomato-y because of the concentrated flavor of the tomato paste. Finishing it all off with some freshly grated parmesan cheese and a few sprigs of flat-leaf parsley was perfect.

I think once we’re able to gather again, this is a dish you can scale up and make for a crowd. Or, this is a nice meal to enjoy by the fire. Yes, I’m willing it to get cold enough for fires!

You’ll need:

2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
1 pound of ground lamb
1 yellow onion, minced
1 cup finely chopped fresh cremini mushrooms
1/4 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 3/4 cups of reduced-sodium chicken or beef broth
1/4 cup dry red wine
1 cup tomato sauce
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar
2 small fresh rosemary or thyme sprigs
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
3/4 pound dried pappardelle
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese,
plus more for serving
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Directions:

  1. Brown the lamb. In a non-stick frying pan large enough to hold the sauce and the pasta, heat the oil over high heat. Add the lamb and saute, stirring to break up any clumps, until lightly browned, about 8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the lamb to a plate.
  2. Saute the vegetables. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of the fat from the pan and return the pan to medium heat. Add the onion, mushrooms, and red pepper flakes and saute until the mushrooms have released their moisture and the onion is translucent and soft, about 5-7 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  3. Finish the sauce. Return the lamb to the pan and add the broth, 1/2 cup of water, the wine, tomato sauce, tomato paste and rosemary. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer gently, uncovered until the sauce has thickened slightly, 25-30 minutes. Add the vinegar and cook for 1 minute longer. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Keep warm over low heat.
  4. Cook the pasta. About 15 minutes before the sauce is ready, bring a large pot three-fourths full of salted water to a boil. Add the pappardelle and cook until al dente, 8 to 10 minutes or according to the package directions.
  5. Finish the dish. Raise the heat under the sauce to medium. Drain the pasta, add it to the sauce, and toss and stir to combine. Add the 1/4 cup of Parmesan, the parsley and again toss to combine.
  6. Plate the dish. Divide the pasta among warmed shallow bowls and serve right away. Pass additional Parmesan at the table.