Monday, February 28, 2011

Braised Lamb and Peppercorn Ragu

Ok. I almost cried when I ate this it was so good.  I saw a beef cheek and peppercorn ragu on a menu and thought "Oh wow, what a wonderfully unique pairing". I had already ordered but couldn't help getting excited about what I thought would be a lovely combination of rich beef cheek meat, flavourful tomato sauce and the welcome spicy bite of a whole peppercorn.

I didn't have beef cheek but I had lamb shoulder and thought it would do the trick. I took my inspirations with me to the kitchen and made a thing of true beauty!

It turned out AMAZING!

1 lb boneless lamb shoulder
4 cloves garlic, smashed
1/2 teaspoon chili flakes
4 cups fresh tomato sauce
2 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
Rigattoni or tagliatelli pasta
salt and pepper to taste

In a small saucepan, cover the peppercorns with water and boil for 5 minutes. Let it rest till it's in room temperature.

 Rub the lamb with salt and pepper and let it sit for about 20 minutes before you sear it. Searing cold meat makes it tougher. Heat a large saucepan and sear the lamb so that it browns on all sides. Add the garlic and cook until it's soft. If there's not enough room in the pot remove the lamb and return when the garlic has cooked and add chili flakes.  Pour in fresh tomato sauce, bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cook covered on low for 2.5 hours. After 1 hour add strained peppercorns. Carefully remove the lamb from the sauce and pull meat apart with two forks. Return to the saucepan and toss with pasta.

Fresh Tomato Sauce Ingredients:
10 large tomatoes
salt to taste
5 sprigs fresh basil

Bring a large pot of water to boil. Score the skin of the tomato and place in boiling water until the skin is soft enough to peel off (about 40 seconds). Peel off all the skin and transfer to a blender. Pulse the tomatoes to the consistency you like (I prefer a little texture so I don't pulse it until it's smooth). Transfer pulsed tomatoes to a saucepan and add a good pinch of salt...maybe more. Bring to a simmer and add fresh basil. 

If you're using this as a fresh tomato sauce saute some garlic with good extra virgin olive oil and then add the sauce, bring to a boil and serve with pasta.

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